With the sequester deadline looming just two weeks away, Republicans have adopted the public posture of cheerleading for the anticipated spending reductions to social programs, while preparing to blame President Obama for their devastating impact on middle class Americans and national security.
Republicans have yet to offer a proposal that would offset the cuts in the 113th Congress and have categorically rejected the Senate’s balanced approach of higher revenues and spending cuts. Instead they’re sitting on their hands until the March 1 deadline, informing Obama that they will not act to head off the automatic reductions.
“Let me be very clear,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday. “These spending cuts are going to go through on March 1st ….The Republican Party is not in any way going to trade spending cuts for a tax increase.”
Pressed by Crowley on the consequences of the across-the-board cuts, Barrasso initially dismissed their impact before blaming Obama for any deleterious effects. “I believe the president has a lot of authority that he can decide how this works, and, yeah, he can make it very uncomfortable, which i think would be a mistake on the part of the president, but when you take a look at the total dollars there are better ways to do this, but the cuts are going to occur,” he said.
Federal spending is already scheduled to reach historic lows as a result of the Budget Control Act, which placed caps on spending as part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011. Non-defense spending is currently 14 percent lower than it has been at any time in the last half-century, and will drop further if the sequester goes into effect, impacting food safety, education, law enforcement, and safety net programs, according to estimates from Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.