Sides won’t budge on sequester budget cuts

WASHINGTON — Severe spending cuts now the law of the land, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans refused Saturday to concede any culpability for failing to stave off what both parties acknowledged was a foolhardy way to slash $85 billion in federal spending.

The still-fragile economy braced itself for the gradual but potentially grave impact of the across-the-board cuts, which took effect Friday night at the stroke of Obama’s pen. Hours earlier, he and congressional leaders emerged from a White House meeting no closer to an agreement.

Even as they pledged a renewed effort to retroactively undo the spending cuts, both parties said the blame rests squarely on the other for any damage the cuts might inflict. There were no indications that either side was wavering from entrenched positions that for weeks had prevented progress on a deal to find a way out: Republicans refusing any deal with more tax revenue and Democrats snubbing any deal without it.

“None of this is necessary,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. “It’s happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps reduce the deficit.”

The president said the cuts would cause “a ripple effect across the economy” that would worsen the longer they stay in place, eventually costing more than 750,000 jobs and disrupting the lives of middle-class families.

In the Republican-controlled House, GOP lawmakers washed their hands of the mess, arguing that bills they passed in the last Congress to avert the cuts absolved them of any responsibility. Those bills passed with little to no Democratic support and were never taken up by the Senate.

“We’ve done the work and shown that these choices can be made in a responsible, thoughtful way,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington in the GOP address.

Obama was holding out hope that as Americans start feeling the effects of the sequester — the term used for the automatic spending cuts — public pressure will force lawmakers back to the table. Ever wary that such fiscal fiascos could jeopardize the rest of his second-term agenda, Obama vowed in his weekly address to keep pushing reforms on immigration, preschool, gun violence and transportation.

But attention was already turning to the next major budget hurdles, with less than a month to negotiate a plan to fund the government beyond March 27 and a debt-ceiling clash coming in May.

Hopes that a measure to undo the spending cuts could be wrapped into a March deal to keep the government running dimmed Friday when both Obama and House Speaker John Boehner said they’d prefer to keep the two issues separate.

“I’m hopeful that we won’t have to deal with the threat of a government shutdown while we’re dealing with the sequester at the same time,” Boehner said.

___

Obama address: www.whitehouse.gov

GOP address: http://www.youtube.com/HouseConference

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

High-speed, tire-shredding Marysville chase ends in capture

The 28-year-old driver is now being held for investigation of more than 25 criminal counts.

Election results for Snohomish County school districts

Updated 2/16: Here are the returns for Tuesday’s special election ballot measures.

School levies still passing in 3 districts after latest tally

In the initial count, ballot measures in Lake Stevens, Marysville and Snohomish had been losing.

7-hour police standoff near Lynnwood ends with surrender

Deputies seized a rifle, pellet gun and knife at the scene.

Scattered power outages around region after gusty Saturday

Up to 2 inches of snow could fall in some lowland areas of Snohomish County, forecasters said.

Front Porch

EVENTS Learn about the microgrid Snohomish County PUD plans an open house… Continue reading

Ban on bump-fire stocks makes progress in State House

The Senate approved the bill but would need to vote on any changes made by the House.

We might see snow in the lowlands this weekend

Snow in the mountain passes will definitely be deep, forecasters say.

Most Read