TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Florida Governor Rick Scott returned to his tea party roots Wednesday when he strangely said that if the sequestration is instituted, it will be because President Barack Obama’s administration, “fails to do its job.”
Scott’s letter, which seeks to lay the blame on Obama for the sequestration, doesn’t answer the fundamental question facing Washington: How does a president from one party negotiate in good faith with another party that is steadfastly refusing to compromise on any position?
Governor Scott’s statement comes just 48 hours before the sequestration, or indiscriminate budget cuts, hit the federal government. The cuts will total $85 billion in 2013 and will likely push the country into a recession.
The indiscriminate cuts are likely to shave off at least 0.6 percent of economic growth this year, according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
“Moreover, besides having adverse effects on jobs and income, a slower recovery would lead to less actual deficit reduction in the short run for any given set of fiscal actions,” Bernanke told Congress on Tuesday.
The cuts were originally put together by the White House and Congress as a means to punish both sides if Republicans and Democrats failed to hammer out a larger budget deficit deal in 2011. Given the gridlock in Washington, the GOP failed to budge any on tax increases and the super-committee failed to put together a budget deal.
As a way to avert the sequestration, House Republicans offered up two packages during the last Congress, but none during the current Congress, which replaced the sequestration with nothing but budget cuts. The cuts targeted a variety of social insurance spending programs along with other discretionary spending.
President Obama has pitched a plan for the sequestration to be replaced by spending cuts and revenue increases through closing tax loopholes and other tax reform. Obama also said he would discuss cuts to entitlements like Social Security and Medicare in a balanced deal of spending cuts and revenue increases.
GOP members said there was no possibility for any revenue increases in any deal to avoid the sequestration. After the GOP threw down the gauntlet on killing any tax increases, no negotiations have moved forward as both sides have retreated to their respective sides.
The sequestration will hit some states harder than others including Florida and Virginia, which is what prompted Scott’s letter to Obama.
“Florida is one of America’s most defense-centric states,” Scott wrote. “The impacts on Florida’s military installations and defense industries will be severe under sequestration. Our immediate concerns include dramatic reductions to our National Guard, which threatens our ability to respond to wildfire this spring and hurricanes this summer.”
Scott’s position illustrates the complexity of the issue facing the GOP as it moves forward with the sequestration. If government doesn’t create jobs as Scott and others like Senator Marco Rubio have said, then a government cut to spending wouldn’t hurt job growth in the country.
However, Scott is arguing just the opposite in his letter by saying the sequestration cuts run the risk of “thousands of Floridians losing their jobs.”
Complicating the issue further for the GOP is the public has thus far weighed in solidly behind President Obama’s plan of a mixture of spending cuts and revenue increases. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 67 percent disapproved of the “way Republicans in Congress are handling federal spending.”
While Obama is also in negative numbers for approval of federal spending, he leads the GOP by a 43-26 margin despite the House’s near complete focus on government spending over the last two years. Obama’s 43 percent overall approval rating matches the number strongly disapproving of how Congressional Republicans are handling the spending issue.
The sequestration is set to take effect on March 1 and no meetings are scheduled before then between Congressional leaders and the president.