White House: Automatic cuts ‘not supported by virtually anyone in Washington’

January 28, 2013
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(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that $85 billion in looming spending cuts set to take effect across the government March 1 were “designed never to become law” and “are not supported by virtually anyone in Washington and certainly not the president.”

His comments came a day after House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate,  became the latest lawmaker to sound a negative note on the cuts, predicting on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that sequestration “is going to happen.”

Republicans and the White House each have blamed the other for failing to accept deficit-reduction proposals from their side that would avert the cuts, known as a sequester.

“… We believe that the right course of action is to take steps to make sure that sequester doesn’t happen because it’s bad for the economy and bad overall for the effort to reduce our deficits in a reasonable way,” Carney said.

The reductions would be split over 10 years between military and domestic spending.

The Defense Department has sounded the most visible opposition to sequestration.

Several services have laid off temporary employees, frozen hiring and canceled or delayed contracts to buffer themselves against the cuts, roughly 9 percent to the defense budget. Late last week, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said employees will be furloughed one day per week between April and Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2013, if Congress does not vote to overturn the cuts. The furloughs would save about $5 billion.

Click here for an unofficial  transcript of Carter’s question-and-answer exchange with reporters.

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.
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