Thursday, February 21, 2013

Boehner to Obama: You created Spending Cut Crisis, You Fixit

House Speaker John Boehner had a simple message Wednesday for President Obama after he used the bully pulpit to blame Republicans for the "meat cleaver" of looming spending cuts: You created it, you fix it.

"Having first proposed and demanded the sequester, it would make sense that the president lead the effort to replace it," Boehner wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

The "sequester" is the Washington word for the $85 billion in 2013 spending cuts set to hit starting March 1, with more than $1 trillion in cuts on tap over the next decade. Boehner and Obama both agree that the federal budget needs that level of deficit reduction and more, but sharply disagree over how to achieve it. In the absence of any compromise, the set of indiscriminate cuts which would hit the military hardest are set to take hold in less than two weeks.

The president on Tuesday, surrounded by first responders who are among those who would see cutbacks, called on House Republicans to drop their resistance to tax increases and steer the country away from the budget "meat cleaver."

But Boehner reminded Obama that the automatic cut idea was originally proffered by the White House during the debt-ceiling talks of 2011. He said Congress "reluctantly accepted the president's demand" and claimed it's now up to Obama to find the escape hatch.

"So, as the president's outrage about the sequester grows in coming days, Republicans have a simple response: Mr. President, we agree that your sequester is bad policy. What spending are you willing to cut to replace it?" Boehner asked.

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer rejected what he described as "revisionist history." The White House acknowledges the "sequester" came from their office, but argues that Congress was on board at the time. The original plan was to tee up cuts so Draconian that Congress would be compelled to strike a deal to replace them -- Congress, though, failed to do so.

While Boehner blames Democratic resistance to spending and entitlement cuts, Obama blames GOP resistance to closing tax loopholes.

"(Obama) is willing to make tough choices. Now it's time for the speaker to do the same. The speaker has yet to name one tax loophole he's willing to close. Not one," Pfeiffer said.

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