Republicans, Democrats brace for impact of March 1 cuts

Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:08pm EST
 

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With five days left before $85 billion is slashed from U.S. government budgets, governors and lawmakers from both parties said the White House and Congress should pull out the stops to avert indiscriminate cuts.

Republicans, who are seeking spending cuts, urged President Barack Obama to apply what's known as the "sequester" in a more careful way, rather than slashing budgets across the board.

The White House has issued dire warnings about the impact the cuts will have, including mass temporary layoffs or "furloughs" in the military, a slowdown in air traffic, and shutdowns for daycare programs and meat-processing plants.

"They've rolled out this great political theater about how cutting less than 3 percent of the federal budget is going to cause all these awful consequences," said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Here's his chance to say, 'Here's how we can do it better,'" Jindal said, suggesting Congress and the White House give departments the ability to cut spending on less essential services.

Congress returns on Monday after a week-long recess and unless lawmakers reach a deal with the White House to postpone the sequester cuts, they will take effect on March 1.

Obama has urged Congress to buy more time for a broad budget deal with a short-term measure that boosts revenues by ending some tax breaks for the wealthy.

Senate Democrats have put forward a plan that focuses on those tax loopholes. This week, Republicans are expected to propose alternatives.   Continued...

 
U.S. President Barack Obama talks against automatic budget cuts scheduled to take effect next week, while in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex in Washington February 19, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing