Automatic spending cuts—the dreaded “sequester” –went into effect Friday and asteroids did not crash into the Capitol building, nor did the Jefferson Memorial slide into the Tidal Basin.
Both Republicans and Democrats have warned of the dire consequences if the $1.2 trillion of spending cuts over the next decade were allowed to take place, but President Obama has been the loudest wolf crier on this.
At a press briefing Friday, he went out of his way to blame whatever dire consequences do occur on Congressional Republicans, who immediately returned the favor.
Administration officials have said the cuts will bite over the next few weeks and months, and on Friday the president said: “I don’t anticipate a huge financial crisis, but people are going to be hurt.”
So, are the budget wars really over or is this just a lull? Among the optimists were Michael D. Shear and Jonathan Weisman ofThe New York Times:
…Both the president and his Republican adversaries said they would not carry the fight over the cuts into a coming legislative effort to finance the government through Sept. 30, essentially declaring a cease-fire in the budget wars that have dominated Washington since 2011…
…The two parties will now move to a broader argument over the right level of taxes and spending as they seek to develop a new budget for the coming year and beyond.
Both the president and House Speaker John Boehner said they would try to avoid a government shutdown when the latest continuing budget resolution expired on March 27th.
Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, however, saw the glass as half-empty:
Nothing that has happened over the past month should give the average American any reason to think that things won’t get worse before they get better, because they almost certainly will.
The reason for pessimism is simple: The parties are deeply divided over the right path forward when it comes to healing the economy and lowering the debt. Obama continues to advocate for a mixed package of tax increases and spending cuts. Republicans believe that Obama has already received his requested tax increases — in the “fiscal cliff” deal — and that the only thing that needs to be done now is to cut.
That was clear in Speaker Boehner’s appearance on “Meet the Press” Sunday when he also repeated the discredited Republican bromide that tax cuts spur economic growth and create jobs.
Here’s the gist of the problem: The president already has put some additional entitlement cuts on the table, as Ezra Klein pointed out. He did it again at his press briefing Friday.
In exchange for that, however, he wants more revenue by eliminating some tax breaks for the wealthy. Republicans won’t consider it.
Why not? Because making such a deal would be political suicide for many Republicans, as groups like Club for Growth and Heritage Action would stir up angry Republican primary voters. And it could cost Speaker Boehner his job. So, no more deals, as the Cold War over the budget continues.