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More spending cuts loom, Congress divided

Democrats and Republicans are still locked in stalemate regarding “the Sequester”


President Obama has urged Republicans and Democrats to come to a compromise regarding the spending cuts known as “the Sequester” that are due to take place today. Earlier this week, he advised state governors to put pressure on members of Congress to make an agreement so that the cuts do not take effect.

The cuts in question are connected to those that partially made up last year’s fiscal cliff. The deal that was reached on Jan. 1 included an agreement to postpone many automatic cuts for two months in order to have more time to negotiate. Today, those cuts, which were put in place in 2011 in an effort to provide incentive for partisan members of Congress to find a solution to the country’s rising debt, are scheduled to occur.

President Obama has called for both parties to concede slightly so that a deal can be reached. The BBC’s Mark Mardell explained the partisan issue, stating that, “Democrats would hate the savaging of social programs; Republicans would loathe the reductions of military spending, so they would be forced to find more sensible ways to reduce public spending. Cunning? Only it has not worked.”

If no deal is reached, the largest cuts would fall to the defense budget, but the change would have significant effects on schoolteachers, air travel, vaccines for children and meat prices according to the BBC.

“These impacts will not all be felt on day one,” said the president, “but the uncertainty is already having an effect.” Similar uncertainty over the fiscal cliff made its own dent in the slowly repairing economy around New Year’s. This week, companies across the U.S. have prepared for the repercussions if no deal is made. They have arranged layoff notices, decided on minor-scale spending reductions and accepted the decline in job growth that is likely to result from “the Sequester.”

Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans have been busy blaming each other for their stubbornness, while simultaneously agreeing that the automatic cuts are a bad decision.

President Obama has taken his influence public in order to convince citizens to press their congressmen for a compromise. Historically, presidential campaigns to excite the public into action have shown to be successful; however, their potential success usually comes with disapproval from other members of the federal government.

“If the president was truly serious about solving the debt and deficit,” argued Representative Kevin McCarthy of Calif., the No. 3 House Republican, “he would be in Washington, D.C., working on solutions. The fact is he has chosen political stunts over coming to terms with Washington’s spending problem.”

Republican Representative Scott Rigell of Virginia took a more supportive view of the president’s policies regarding “the Sequester.” While holding that he should present a more detailed plan which combines tax rises and spending cuts, Rigell admitted that both parties were at fault for delays in the plan.

“I believe that a position that says we will reject a proposal if it has even a dollar increase in revenue, I don’t think that’s a wise position and I don’t hold that value,” he said of Republicans who are adamant about not raising taxes. “Revenue has to come up a bit, first by growing the economy, but also by tax reform, which also includes eliminating lobbyist-inspired, lobbyist-written loopholes. I am in favor of that.”


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