The lawmakers criticized Obama for a planned trip Tuesday to Newport News, Va., where he will highlight the impact of the cuts on the military-driven local economy.
A trio of GOP governors also said Obama is hyping the problem.
“I think he’s trying to scare the American people,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
With just days left before $1.2 trillion in budget cuts begin to take effect, that argument was the closest thing to progress Monday. There was a new round of grim political theater — including new warnings from Cabinet secretaries about the potential impact of the cuts — but no deal or substantive negotiations.
New Post-Pew poll
A new Washington Post-Pew Research poll shows that the standoff has risks for both sides, but more so for the GOP. Among respondents, 45 percent said they would blame Republicans if the cuts took effect and 32 percent said they would blame Obama. An additional 13 percent said they would blame both sides equally.
Obama has insisted that any sequester replacement must balance spending cuts with new measures to raise tax revenue. Republicans have insisted that it should not. On Monday, Obama urged a visiting group of governors to lobby their congressional delegations.
“Here’s the thing — these cuts do not have to happen,” he told the gathering. “Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise.”
The sequester is a package of spending cuts worth $85 billion for the current fiscal year and $1.2 trillion over the next decade. It was designed as a poison pill, not a real-world policy. The idea, back in 2011, was that broad cuts would be so unappealing that Washington lawmakers would be motivated to replace them with new and less-disruptive reductions.
“I don’t think the public realizes how stupid these cuts are,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said in an interview Monday with “CBS This Morning.”
“Limping from one budget crisis to another doesn’t do anything for this economy,” he added.
One reason for the lack of progress is that, on Capitol Hill, the deadline doesn’t quite feel like a deadline. In other recent budget showdowns, such as the debt-ceiling fight in 2011 and the “fiscal cliff” crisis this winter, there were hard deadlines with immediate, unpleasant consequences. Miss them, and Congress risked a national default or large tax hikes.
This deadline is different. Even if the sequester takes effect as scheduled Friday, it could be weeks before the first employees are furloughed and the first effects are felt by the public. That could leave plenty of time for Congress to reverse or modify the cuts.