House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) was asked at a press conference today what House Republicans planned to do to avoid the spending sequester set to take effect in March.
Boehner reminded members of the press that House Republicans have, on two separate occasions, passed legislation that would replace the sequester with an alternative package of cuts less heavily weighted toward the defense budget. “It’s time for the Senate Democrats to do their work,” he said. “It’s time for the president to offer his ideas about how to replace the sequester.”
Moments later, the White House announced that President Obama will propose a short-term package of spending cuts and tax increases that would delay the sequester until the formal budget process can be completed (Obama’s budget is already past due). He is scheduled to speak at 1:15 p.m., the same time that House majority leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) will deliver a major address at the American Enterprise Institute. A coincidence, surely.
Needless to say, the proposal is going nowhere. “Not going to happen,” says a House GOP aide. “Obama got his tax hikes. That debate is over.” The fiscal-cliff deal passed earlier this year included $600 billion in new taxes. However, the president and his Democratic allies have made clear they want even more. Republicans, meanwhile, say enough is enough.
“We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes,” Boehner said in a statement. “The president’s sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in ten years.”
House Republicans appear increasingly willing to let the full $1 trillion sequester, half of which would come out of the defense budget, take effect. “I think it’s necessary to make those real kinds of cuts, and then hopefully we can restore military spending and offset it with other spending cuts elsewhere,” Representative Paul Broun (R., Ga.) told me in January.
House Republicans want to see real spending cuts, and the sequester, while imperfect, would achieve a meaningful reduction in federal spending. And without raising taxes.