Republicans have been saying for some time that the spending cuts in the sequester are not ideal, and should be more targeted so that spending is still reduced by the same amount but our military is not hit as hard with cuts. House Republicans have passed measures to do just that and yesterday Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced a companion bill in the Senate to “replace these looming reductions with savings from other areas of the federal budget – without raising taxes.”
But Senate Democrats have shown no interest in moving any of these measures. And the White House apparently rejected them out of hand today. This comes on the heels of a statement by the president that he wants to replace some of these cuts even though they were created by his White House and signed into law by the president himself. According to Politico, “White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday dismissed as unacceptable a list of potential ways to replace the sequester cuts being considered by Republicans. ‘They’re terrible,’ Carney said. ‘They reflect, I think, they fly in the face of this whole apparent effort — which seems to be a public relations effort and not a policy effort – to change the way the Republican Party is viewed on these matters.’ POLITICO reported Wednesday on a list of options that GOP House leadership would entertain, including raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67, tweaking Medicare premiums and federal pension programs, and changing the chained CPI — or formula used to calculate government benefits.”
Of course, President Obama has not put forward any specific plans to replace the sequester savings with other cuts. Rather, he’s suggested a series of gimmicky tax increasesthat wouldn’t put a dent in the deficit.
Speaking on the Senate floor this morning, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell expressed his frustration with the president’s approach and rejected his call for ever more tax hikes. The White House, Leader McConnell said, “has turned once again to gimmicks and tax hikes that only serve to delay solutions. Earlier this week, the President even proposed more tax hikes to offset a sequester that he himself proposed and that he already signed into law. If he agrees with us that there’s a smarter way to make these cuts, he should propose it – not just call on others to act. But I’ll tell you this right now: my constituents in Kentucky and the American people will not accept another tax increase to put off a spending cut that the two parties have already agreed to. It’s the definition of dysfunction.”