The March 1st deadline has come and gone, making the drastic sequester budget cuts the new law of the land. The $85 billion in reductions will sink in over the course of the next year, affecting various branches of the federal government and impacting local communities all across the country.
The sequester budget cuts are unpopular. According to the PewReseach Center, 62 percent of Americans believe the automatic spending cuts will have a mostly negative effect on the economy. Regardless, Americans were largely apathetic to the whole ordeal. Only a quarter of Americans followed the issue closely, and 40 percent would rather have seen the budget cuts set in rather than get delayed yet another time. Politicians had more incentive to do nothing than to come up with another compromise that could kick the can down the road yet again.
The White House and Congress blamed their political opponents for the upcoming budget cuts prior to March 1, and they continued to do so after. Both parties made their way through the Sunday talk shows and staked their claim that it was time for the other party to come to the table and compromise, that previous proposals were not going to work. Yet in doing so, Republicans hinted at the possibility of making a deal down the road.
On Face the Nation this weekend, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said:
“I’m not going to do any more small deals. I’m not going to raise taxes to fix sequestration. We don’t need to raise taxes to fund the government. We need to raise taxes to get our nation out of debt. We can do the big deal if we have some leadership.”
The White House and House Republicans have fought over the federal budget since Republicans gained control of the House in 2010. The sequester budget cuts were designed in a deal to raise the debt ceiling in 2011 and were intended to be so frightening that they would force both sides to come to the table and commit to a compromise. As drastic as they were, they just were not scary enough.
Roll Call suggests that a grand compromise may be possible months down the road from now. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both said that any revenue from a tax overhaul would have to go towards reducing tax rates and not to fund government spending or lower the deficit. They signaled that a long-term deal to lower the deficit, reform the tax code, and cut entitlement spending could still occur. Some other Republicans expressed a willingness to use revenue to lower the deficit and ease the effects of spending cuts in addition to reducing tax rates.
Senators John McCain and Graham both said on Face the Nation that they want talks to resume between Congress and the White House, that President Obama and Boehner should continue where they left off last year. As far as Boehner’s concerned, the President got his way when the payroll tax cuts expired at the beginning of this year and Congress enacted $600 billion in additional tax increases as part of the agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff. Now he feels that any future deal should focus on lowering tax rates.
First Read speculates that after the sequester budget cuts begin to be felt, the two parties will be able to come together:
And in September, the president and Democrats will have this response when Boehner and Republicans say, “The president got his tax increases.” They’ll be able to say, “The Republicans got their spending cuts.”
This compromise is contingent on the budget cuts being felt and voters creating enough political pressure on easing the pain. As far as the next couple of months are concerned, the sequester budget cuts are sticking around.
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