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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Senators Roy Blunt and Tom Coburn Believe Sequestration Will Happen

By Susan Duclos

Sequestration is all about spending cuts and it is already law. Proposed by the White House during the 2011 debt limit battle, meant to force Republicans and Democrats into coming to agreement on replacements cuts by a given date or the automatic cuts go into effect.

Barack Obama and Democratic leaders have been trying to convince Republicans that any replacement for those automatic cuts, already signed into law, should include tax revenue increases, despite the fact that the recent fiscal cliff deal signed into law, already raised taxes on 77 percent of American workers and raised tax rates for upper income families by a ratio of $41 tax revenue to $1 spending cuts.

That is where we are today. Republicans have their spending cuts and they are already the law. They do not like how much comes from Defense, but are unwilling to allow Obama and Democrats to insert tax revenue increases into a replacement law for one that is only about spending cuts now.

Democrats have no leverage because no deal means spending cuts go into effect, the only option they have at this point is to try to replace one set of cuts with another.

If Republicans refuse to back down and they have no reason to at this point.

Which brings us to Republican Senator Tom Coburn and  Republican Senator Roy Blunt, in two different news articles, both believing the Sequester is going to happen.

Coburn, via Politico:

Top congressional Republicans predicted Wednesday that the sequester will hit at the end of the month – the latest chapter in the series of budget battles that have stymied Washington in the last few years.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Senate Republican leadership, said “I think the sequester’s gonna happen” and said the Pentagon needs more discretion to target the budget cuts so they don’t hit defense programs indiscriminately.

“The right thing to do is reduce spending,” Blunt said at POLITICO’s post-State of the Union event. “The wrong way to do it is with across-the-board cuts.”

Coburn, via  Morning Joe:

The government may have averted sequestration in December, but it won’t avoid it for long, according to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

“We’re gonna have a sequestration. we’re gonna have some pain because the politicians on the Hill aren’t going to make cogent, smart decisions about alternatives to this until they start feeling some pain,” Coburn said on Wednesday’s Morning Joe.

Republican Representatives also cast doubt on a deal being reached, via Politico:

And Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said at POLITICO’s event that there is a “greater chance that they’ll be implemented than not at this point.” He argued that the GOP-led House has been out front on the sequester conundrum, noting that it twice passed legislation in the last Congress to avert the budget cuts.

“Obviously nothing was done” by the Senate and the White House, Lankford said. “We’re in the same boat now.”


In his comments at POLITICO’s event, Lankford signaled that raising taxes – like what Obama is calling for – would be more damaging to the economy than the budget cuts, and signaled his opposition to another short-term fix to the sequester.

“We need to solve it,” Lankford said. “Whatever we need to do, we need to solve it … I don’t anticipate some short-term measure.”

And another House Republican – Mike Pompeo of Kansas — warned of the economically damaging effects of the sequester, but urged Congress to enact the level of deficit reduction outlined in the Budget Control Act. Pompeo said the budget cuts would be a “home run” with the American people.

Pompeo has a point, the latest polling conducted finds that voters back spending cuts to boost the economy by large margins.

Opposition to another round of stimulus runs two-to-one, according to the poll. This could be because 73 percent of voters polled say cutting government spending would be more likely to help strengthen the nation’s economy -- as opposed to just 15 percent who believe increasing spending would do the trick.

While Obama reportedly has said he doesn't believe the government has a spending problem, the poll showed that out of 13 issues tested, more voters are "extremely" concerned about government spending than any other issue.

Even a majority of Democrats -- 55 percent -- agreed that cutting spending is the way to help the economy. Ninety-one percent of Republicans held that view.

These numbers are similar to a poll conducted in December by Politico/GWU/Battleground that found  76 percent of Americans favor "Cutting government spending across the board."

If the GOP sticks to their guns, spending will be cut and Americans won't suffer through more tax increases. If the GOP does not stick to their guns, they can be prepared to be wiped out in the 2014 midterms because conservative supporters are tired of Washington's spending problem being allowed to continue and even more weary of the GOP leaders caving when they have the winning hand.