Now That They've Happened, Spending Cuts Seem Here to Stay

By PHILIP ELLIOTT


WASHINGTON (AP) - The spending cuts are here to stay if you believe the public posturing Sunday.

The Senate's Republican leader Mitch McConnell called them modest. House Speaker John Boehner isn't sure the cuts will hurt the economy. The White House's top economic adviser, Gene Sperling, said the pain isn't that bad right now.

So after months of dire warnings, Washington didn't implode, government didn't shut down and the $85 billion budget trigger didn't spell doom. And no one has a tangible proposal for rolling back those cuts.

"This modest reduction of 2.4 percent in spending over the next six months is a little more than the average American experienced just two months ago, when their own pay went down when the payroll tax holiday expired," McConnell said.

"I don't know whether it's going to hurt the economy or not," Boehner said. "I don't think anyone quite understands how the sequester is really going to work."

And Sperling, making the rounds on the Sunday news shows, added: "On Day One, it will not be as harmful as it will be over time."

Both parties cast blame on the other for the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts but gave little guidance on what to expect in the coming weeks. Republicans and Democrats pledged to retroactively undo the cuts but signaled no hints as to how that process would start to take shape. Republicans insisted there would be no new taxes and Democrats refused to talk about any bargain without them.

"That's not going to work," said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. "If we're going to increase revenue again, it's got to go to the debt with real entitlement reform and real tax reform when you actually lower rates. ... I'm not going to agree to any more tax increases that are going to go to increase more government."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said any tax increases were unacceptable.

"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," Graham said.

All of this comes ahead of a new, March 27 deadline that could spell a government shutdown and a debt-ceiling clash coming in May.

Boehner said his chamber would move this week to pass a measure to keep government open through Sept. 30. McConnell said a government shutdown was unlikely to come from his side of Capitol Hill. The White House said it would dodge the shutdown and roll back the cuts, which hit domestic and defense spending in equal share.

"We will still be committed to trying to find Republicans and Democrats that will work on a bipartisan compromise to get rid of the sequester," Sperling said.

Obama has phoned lawmakers but it isn't clear to what end; the White House refused Sunday to release the names of lawmakers Obama phoned. Boehner and McConnell said they had a productive meeting with Obama on Friday, but it didn't yield a deal.

"Well, no one can think that that's been a success for the president," said Mitt Romney, Obama's unsuccessful rival in November's election. "He didn't think the sequester would happen. It is happening."

Obama and the Republicans have been fighting over federal spending since the opposition party regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections. The budget cuts were designed in 2011 to be so ruthless that both sides would be forced to find a better deal, but they haven't despite two years to find a compromise.

The $85 billion in cuts apply to the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. But without a deal they will continue slashing government spending by about $1 trillion more over a 10-year period.

McConnell spoke to CNN's "State of the Union." Boehner was interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press." Sperling appeared on ABC's "This Week," NBC and CNN. Ayotte appeared on ABC. Graham spoke with CBS' "Face the Nation." Romney was a guest on "Fox News Sunday."

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keener1911

Cuts vs Revenue: Starting in 2013 the working folks added 2.0 % (payroll taxes) back into the deductions from their wages (added revenue). The over $400,00/year crowd is kicking in well over 2% of their earnings to theTreasury (added revenue). The over $200,000/year folks ($250,000 if your married) are contributing a much higher percentage to Medicare starting in 2013 (added revenue). Maybe what is needed now is a 2% across the board reduction in elected officials' wages (reduced spending). Combine this with an across the board 2% reduction in what the "entitlement'" crowd sucks out of the Treasury (reduced spending). I wonder if we can add to that some common sense about reducing or eliminating some of the gratuitous "vote for me" give aways now viewed as entitlements ... including only giving them to US citizens. (reduced spending).

The next thing you know all of the 'blamers' will be arm wrestling each other to become 'credit takers'. Also, maybe then we can start paying what we owe China. Maybe then the Fed will stop printing (soon to be) funny-money and raise interest rates so Americans with money will invest in America instead of oversees companies. Maybe then our grandkids won't be standing in line down on the dock waiting for the boat to arrive with stale bread and fortune cookies from China .

March 04 2013 at 2:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
msscot

I still can't believe this fiscally Bankrupt guy got re-elected. What a bunch of sheeple.

March 04 2013 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bchrist751

This modest reduction of 2.4 percent in spending over the next six months is a little more than the average American experienced just two months ago, when their own pay went down when the payroll tax holiday expired," McConnell said.

March 04 2013 at 10:08 AM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
Bill

Lets start with cutting congress paychecks and benefits and work ahead from there. When this country started, congress "volunteered" their services for the betterment of this country. They worked regular jobs or farmed for their income. We need to go back to those times as they are obviously not earning their pay now.

March 04 2013 at 9:18 AM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
omgnojobs

ALL AMERICANS WANT TO "CUT TAXES"~~CUT OBAMYS OUT OF CONTROL SPENDING"~~"CUT THE SIZE OF GOVERNMENT "~~DEPORT ALL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS THAT "BROKE" INTO AMERICA ~~IT "ILLEGAL" TO HIRE ANY "ILLEGAL"

March 04 2013 at 9:04 AM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply
omgnojobs

SO NOW THAT USELESS ,WORTHLESS OBAMY NOT ONLY HAS RECORD UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE "GREAT RECESSION WE ARE IN TODAY N FOR THE LAST 4 PLUS YEARS NOW ,HE NOW HAS SHUT THE WHOLE COUNTRY DOWN ~~WHOO~~WHOOOO OBAMY HAS THE WHOLE COUNTRY ON THE WRONG TRACK.N ITS TIME TO START HIS IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OR DEPRESSION WILL SET IN. ! !

March 04 2013 at 8:06 AM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply