Earlier this morning, I was asked by Jim Vicevich on his radio show whether I thought the sequester would go through. I said yes, especially since there wasn’t any alternatives being offered by the Senate yet, and because the lack of follow-through by House Republicans would eliminate any credibility in future negotiations between the two chambers. Paul Ryan made similar points this morning on CBS, telling Charlie Rose that while Barack Obama complained about his own budget demand now that it’s about to hit, he hasn’t offered any alternatives:
Congressman and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said he expects the drastic round of automatic across-the-board spending cuts – known as the sequester – to be implemented despite the fact that both parties largely agree they’re a bad idea. the House Budget Committee and spoke out on “CBS This Morning,” Wednesday, to share his reaction to the president’s State of the Union address.
In an appearance on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday, the chairman of the House Budget Committee condemned what he calls economic “brinksmanship” practiced by the president and Democrats in the Senate.
Ryan said the sequester, which would go into effect next month, is likely, “because the president hasn’t put a budget on the table. The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in four years … Don’t forget that it’s the president who first proposed the sequester and it’s the president who designed the sequester as it is now designed.”
“We have acted in the House. The president has not. The Senate has not and therefore … I think it’s going to happen.”
The media would like to forget that this was Obama’s idea all along. In fact, six months ago Obama accused Republicans of “trying to wriggle out” of their sequester agreement:
It’s not Republicans wriggling now. Politico reports this morning that the GOP has reached a consensus that the sequester needs to take place as an opening round of spending reductions, especially in the absence of any action from Senate Democrats:
Top congressional Republicans predicted Wednesday that the sequester will hit at the end of the month – the latest chapter in the series of budget battles that have stymied Washington in the last few years.
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Senate Republican leadership, said “I think the sequester’s gonna happen” and said the Pentagon needs more discretion to target the budget cuts so they don’t hit defense programs indiscriminately.
“The right thing to do is reduce spending,” Blunt said at POLITICO’s post-State of the Union event. “The wrong way to do it is with across-the-board cuts.”
And Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said at POLITICO’s event that there is a “greater chance that they’ll be implemented than not at this point.” He argued that the GOP-led House has been out front on the sequester conundrum, noting that it twice passed legislation in the last Congress to avert the budget cuts.
“Obviously nothing was done” by the Senate and the White House, Lankford said. “We’re in the same boat now.”
There are only 15 days left before those cuts automatically go into effect. Without a serious proposal from the Senate to consider, the House will apparently stand pat, and it will be the White House wriggling until then.