So, the thing that was supposed to be so heinous it would force intransigent Congress to compromise to avert proved not to be so heinous after all, and so the American people - specifically, the middle class, seniors, students, children and the most needy, will suffer the price. Congressional Republicans had calculated that Sequester better served their political goals - if it reverses the slow economic recovery, all the better; if it triggers 750,000 layoffs, even better; if it pushes unemployment rates passed that magic 8% threshold even better than that. If it plunges consumer confidence and raises the misery index even better. And if S&P downgrades US credit again, even better. And they can blame it all - as they do now and the failed Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney did so specifically - on President Obama.
It is incredible to me that Democrats didn't do a better job of presenting their plan, allowing Boehner to say that the President didn't have a plan.
Tell me again why Congressional Democrats didn't publicize their alternate plan, to show that Republican Speaker John Boehner refused it to be voted on?
And why, again, if the Senate voted 58-41 on a plan, why didn't that pass? The answer is Harry Reid, that weak-kneed non-leader not changing the filibuster rules giving the Republican Minority control of government regardless of what voters decided. Dems look like fools.
Why are Dems allowing Republicans to control the messaging?
The President went out to the country to warn of the impact if sequester but why is it that few people are aware that President Obama's leadership and the policies he instituted, the budget deficit has steadily gone down, unemployment rates gone down, percent of debt to GDP gone down?
I was just in Florida, listening as people were talking back to the news program - they don't have a clue They made cynical jokes - about how the sequester will force cuts in White House staff. But what if the President were forced to work a four-day week?
And why didn't the Democrats make more of military readiness. After all, the Republicans went to town over the deaths of four diplomats in Benghazi , but Rep[ublicans took no responsibility for cutting State Department budget for security. The impact of mandatory across-the-board cuts to State Department funding, will force them to reduce security further, means that there could be more Benghazis in the future.
Republicans don't care. And they clearly don't understand the economy - the "ripple effect on the economy," as the President said, of cutting spending, laying off workers.
They also don't seem to understand the constitution and how it spells out responsibility: that bills affecting spending have to originate in the House, not the Senate; that the bills that Boehner said were on the table from the last Congress died with the end of that do-nothing congress, and that the President - not being a tyrant - can't do any of these things on his own.
The first across-the-board cuts should have been to Congressional salaries and budgets. They would have to do with less staff, less promotional materials sent to voters telling them what a great job they did bringing home federal funding for their local projects.
The Republicans have proved intransigent because they refuse to allow any part of deficit reduction come from revenue increases. Let's be clear: Obama has not proposed increasing tax rates, but closing loopholes that the vast majority of Americans say are unfair and unnecessary, like giving taxpayer money to the Oil & Gas industry, the most profitable in the history of mankind, or seeing that Hedge Fund Managers, who make their mega-millions simply by moving money around (and not creating a single job), pay the same tax rate on the income they earn as other, less-privileged people.
"None of this is necessary," President Obama stated. "It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made. They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit."
Let's also be reminded where this enormous budget deficit originated: the Bush tax cuts coinciding with launching two unpaid for trillion dollar wars, the demographics of an aging population, and the Great Recession brought about by reckless financial industry unchecked by a laissez-faire Bush Administration.
Obama has clearly recognized the need for fiscal management, but he has proposed a balanced, intelligent approach to cutting spending and raising revenue in ways that allow for the economy to grow, incomes to grow, and the United States remain competitive in science and technology.
Here is what President Obama said after leaving the meeting with Congressional leaders: Speaker Boehner, Minority Leader Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid and Senate Minority Leader O'Connell:
"As you know, I just met with leaders of both parties to discuss a way forward in light of the severe budget cuts that start to take effect today. I told them these cuts will hurt our economy. They will cost us jobs. And to set it right, both sides need to be willing to compromise.
"The good news is the American people are strong and they’re resilient. They fought hard to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and we will get through this as well. Even with these cuts in place, folks all across this country will work hard to make sure that we keep the recovery going. But Washington sure isn’t making it easy.
"At a time when our businesses have finally begun to get some traction -- hiring new workers, bringing jobs back to America -- we shouldn’t be making a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts to things that businesses depend on and workers depend on, like education, and research, and infrastructure and defense. It’s unnecessary. And at a time when too many Americans are still looking for work, it’s inexcusable.
"Now, what’s important to understand is that not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away. The pain, though, will be real. Beginning this week, many middle-class families will have their lives disrupted in significant ways. Businesses that work with the military, like the Virginia shipbuilder that I visited on Tuesday, may have to lay folks off. Communities near military bases will take a serious blow. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who serve their country -- Border Patrol agents, FBI agents, civilians who work at the Pentagon -- all will suffer significant pay cuts and furloughs.
"All of this will cause a ripple effect throughout our economy. Layoffs and pay cuts means that people have less money in their pockets, and that means that they have less money to spend at local businesses. That means lower profits. That means fewer hires. The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy -- a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day.
"So economists are estimating that as a consequence of this sequester, that we could see growth cut by over one-half of 1 percent. It will cost about 750,000 jobs at a time when we should be growing jobs more quickly. So every time that we get a piece of economic news, over the next month, next two months, next six months, as long as the sequester is in place, we’ll know that that economic news could have been better if Congress had not failed to act.
"And let’s be clear. None of this is necessary. It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made. They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit. As recently as yesterday, they decided to protect special interest tax breaks for the well-off and well-connected, and they think that that’s apparently more important than protecting our military or middle-class families from the pain of these cuts.
"I do believe that we can and must replace these cuts with a more balanced approach that asks something from everybody: Smart spending cuts; entitlement reform; tax reform that makes the tax code more fair for families and businesses without raising tax rates -- all so that we can responsibly lower the deficit without laying off workers, or forcing parents to scramble for childcare, or slashing financial aid for college students.
"I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I don’t think that is partisan. It’s the kind of approach that I’ve proposed for two years. It’s what I ran on last year. And the majority of the American people agree with me in this approach, including, by the way, a majority of Republicans. We just need Republicans in Congress to catch up with their own party and their country on this. And if they did so, we could make a lot of progress.
"I do know that there are Republicans in Congress who privately, at least, say that they would rather close tax loopholes than let these cuts go through. I know that there are Democrats who’d rather do smart entitlement reform than let these cuts go through. So there is a caucus of common sense up on Capitol Hill. It’s just -- it’s a silent group right now, and we want to make sure that their voices start getting heard.
"In the coming days and in the coming weeks I’m going to keep on reaching out to them, both individually and as groups of senators or members of the House, and say to them, let’s fix this -- not just for a month or two, but for years to come. Because the greatest nation on Earth does not conduct its business in month-to-month increments, or by careening from crisis to crisis. And America has got a lot more work to do.
"In the meantime, we can’t let political gridlock around the budget stand in the way of other areas where we can make progress. I was pleased to see that the House passed the Violence Against Women Act yesterday. That is a big win for not just women but for families and for the American people. It’s a law that’s going to save lives and help more Americans live free from fear. It’s something that we’ve been pushing on for a long time. I was glad to see that done. And it’s an example of how we can still get some important bipartisan legislation through this Congress even though there is still these fiscal arguments taking place.
"And I think there are other areas where we can make progress even with the sequester unresolved. I will continue to push for those initiatives. I’m going to keep pushing for high-quality preschool for every family that wants it. I’m going to keep pushing to make sure that we raise the minimum wage so that it’s one that families can live on. I’m going to keep on pushing for immigration reform, and reform our voting system, and improvements on our transportation sector. And I’m going to keep pushing for sensible gun reforms because I still think they deserve a vote.
"This is the agenda that the American people voted for. These are America’s priorities. They are too important to go unaddressed. And I’m going to keep pushing to make sure that we see them through."
Republicans don't actually care what the American people voted for, or what the vast majority of Americans have said they want.
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
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