March 1, 2013
Friday's meeting between President Obama and leaders from Congress was unproductive, and no deficit deal could be reached to stop sequestration.
Meeting with the President were the top Democrat leaders in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi and the top Republican leaders, House Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
The Republicans insist that they will not agree to ending tax loopholes for the country's wealthiest taxpayers and corporations and want to see only spending cuts. Democrats insist that the wealthiest citizens should start pulling their weight and want tax revisions included in a budget deal. Neither side will compromise.
When asked why he didn't insist the leaders remain in the meeting until a compromise was reached President Obama stated:
“I’m not a dictator. I’m the president,” Obama said. “[Sequestration] is happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made. They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit.”(Read President Obama's remarks at the press conference here.)
The President continued to call for a compromise even as he was forced to sign an order to begin $85 billion spending cuts. The cuts are expected to reverse the economic recovery and adversely affect government agencies, especially the military.
Democrats predict the cuts, known as "sequestration," could soon cause air-traffic delays, furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal employees and disruption to education.
New U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the cuts, half of which will fall on the Pentagon, put at risk "all of our missions."
While the International Monetary Fund warned that the belt-tightening could slow U.S. economic growth by at least 0.5 of a percentage point this year, that is not a huge drag on an economy that is picking up steam.U.S. News reports the ten industries hurt the most by the sequester are defense; public schools; road bridge and tunnel construction; remediation and environmental cleanup; guns and ammunition; colleges and universities; steel framing; public transportation; airports; and social services facilities.
A cut to the salaries of the members of Congress should be the first cut in a situation like this.
The President's plan rejected by Republican leaders, calls for closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest in our country and for spending cuts:
The Washington Post reported:
Polls shows Obama has broad support among Americans for his approach to taxes and spending. Over coming weeks, senior administration officials said, he will highlight people and localities hurt by the sequester, with the intention of creating pressure to force Republicans to concede. But the president said that could take months.Polls also show that more Americans are blaming Congressional Republicans than the President for the sequester. At last month's February National Governor's Association Conference, GOP governors publicly expressed dissatisfaction with Republican Congressional leadership. Other Republican members of Congress like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) are moving towards compromise.
If the gridlock continues and the middle class is forced once again to carry the burden of the Washington games, I predict the American people will be making cuts –cuts of Republican House candidates at the polls in the next election. We just may see a Democratic House in 2014 if no compromise is reached.
Explanation of sequester::
President Obama's Radio Address: