Boehner says he hopes to avert scheduled spending cuts

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:34pm EST

Speaker of the House John Boehner takes his oath during the first day of the 113th Congress at the Capitol in Washington January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Speaker of the House John Boehner takes his oath during the first day of the 113th Congress at the Capitol in Washington January 3, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, expressed hope on Wednesday that automatic spending cuts could be averted if President Barack Obama quickly comes up with an alternative.

Boehner made the comments a day after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he expects the across-the-board cuts, known as sequester, to begin on schedule on March 1.

Boehner, standing before a blinking sign reading "Countdown to Obamaquester," said it is up to the president and his fellow Democrats in the Senate to move quickly.

"Sequester is bad policy. It takes a meat axe approach to government spending," Boehner, flanked by fellow House Republican leaders, said at a news conference.

"I would hope that it would not happen," Boehner.

"It is incumbent upon the president and Senate Democrats to show us their plan and stop the sequester from going into place," the speaker said.

Senate Democrats are crafting a plan, with a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts, that may be voted on by the chamber the week after next.

But Senate Republicans could block it with a procedural roadblock. Republicans contend that deficit reduction should be limited to spending cuts without any tax hikes.

"Read my lips: I'm not interested in an eleventh-hour negotiation," McConnell said.

"It's pretty clear to me that the sequester's going to go into effect," McConnell said. "I have seen no evidence that the House plans to act on this matter before the end of the month."

Sequester was set in motion in August 2011 as part of a bipartisan deficit-reduction deal.

These cuts were supposed to be so draconian that Congress would be inspired to replace them with more thoughtful ways of reducing the budget deficit.

But Republicans and Democrats have been unable to agree on a substitute.

The cuts will be split evenly between military programs and domestic discretionary spending, with the first seven months' worth coming to about $85 billion if Congress fails to act before March 1.

Boehner has declined to reintroduce legislation passed by the House last year that would shift the cuts from the military to other domestic programs.

Instead, he has simply pinned blame for the looming cuts on Obama, and argued that it is now up for the Democratic-controlled Senate to act.

(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro, David Lawder and Kim Dixon; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (9)
xyz2055 wrote:
The private sector is part of the problem. The tax code in this country is atrocious. 47% pay zero in Federal Income taxes, many Corporations (Apple 7% functional tax rate, GE paid zero in taxes for 2010 and 2011) and billionaires pay less than 20% in taxes. The upper middle class ($100,000 to $200,000 which I’m in) pay the highest percentage of taxes. The purpose of taxes is to pay for the programs that Congress has authorized. Problem is that for decades they’ve been living off the “government credit card” (bonds and treasuries) instead of matching spending to revenue. The problem is that the Republicans idea is to ONLY cut entitlement programs. They would punish the poorest in this country while cutting taxes for the richest. Corporations are sitting on mountains of cash. Apple has enough cash on hand to buy every team in the NFL twice. If you don’t recognize their Plutocracy agenda…get a new seeing eye dog. Obama has said it over and over…the cuts need to be balanced. They need to be fair. Everyone needs to contribute. We don’t need, nor can we afford a $1T Defense program. And those entitlement programs that the Republicans have their eye on. Those aren’t free government services. We the people pay for those programs directly out of our paychecks.

Feb 13, 2013 1:45pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Let me get this straight. Sequester was a product of the Republican Party. They put it to the floor and they alone provided the majority vote to pass it. Now they are trying to blame Obama for the sequester? There must be something I’m missing here—- perhaps the truth. I think the halo the Repubs have around their heads are too small, it is obviously cutting off circulation the the brain.

Feb 13, 2013 1:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
jaham wrote:
So the inefficiency of the government dictated tax code means the private sector is part of the problem?

Feb 13, 2013 2:06pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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