In just a few minutes, President Barack Obama will host a press conference at the White House to propose a plan to avoid automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect on March 1st. The cuts, which are part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, were originally scheduled to take effect at the beginning of the year, but were postponed as part of the so-called “fiscal cliff” deal on January 1st.
A White House official said Obama would emphasize that the scheduled cuts would hurt the Pentagon and the broader economy.
“With our economy poised to continue to strengthen this year, the president will make clear that we can’t see another self-inflicted wound from Washington,” a White House official said. “The president will urge Congress to come together and act to ensure these devastating cuts to defense and job-creating programs don’t take effect.”
During a presidential debate with Mitt Romney last fall, Obama said the sequester “will not happen.”
It remains unclear if Obama is asking for a short delay in the $85 billion in cuts or a replacement of the full amount. Obama is expected to outline a mix of tax revenue increases and spending reforms.
While it was thought that they would try to bargin to avoid defense spending cuts, House Republicans have indictated in recent days that they are willing to go along with the sequester rather than get into another battle with President Obama. House Republicans previously tried to substitute defense spending cuts with domestic cuts.
Speaker John Boehner outright rejected President Obama’s rumored proposal in a statement issued from his office this morning. Seeking to put ownership of the spending cuts on Obama, Boehner said, “The sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years.”
Boehner wants to undo the sequester cuts for defense, but there is no way he’s going to get that passed the White House. But the White House is in a pretty tough spot at the moment, as Philip Klein explained today. “[Obama’s] suggestion that Republicans agree to raise taxes again to delay the sequester is laughable — they have zero reason to do it, Klein wrote. “Either he agrees to spending cuts of an equal amount, or the sequester will kick in.”
Some, such as the Lindsey Grahams and John McCains of the GOP, aren’t going to happy about the defense cuts, but Republicans finally have an edge on Obama. Let’s just hope they don’t get weak in the knees.