'Dooms Day' Rhetoric Called into Question
With just four days remaining until automatic budget cuts kick in, Republicans are looking to call President Obama's "bluff" -- by giving him the flexibility to spread around the budget-ax pain in a way that would prevent the kind of fiscal doomsday his administration is predicting.
The White House on Sunday evening ramped up its campaign to pressure Republicans, releasing state-by-state reports detailing the purported impact of the cuts. For days, top Cabinet officials have taken to the media to warn about the widespread damage if Congress does not agree to avert the cuts with an Obama-endorsed blend of spending reductions and tax increases.
But Republicans have recently questioned whether the president might have more flexibility than he's letting on. The $85 billion in cuts on tap for this year, they note, amounts to a little more than 2 percent of the federal budget -- enough to be felt, but not enough to necessarily herald a crippling of government functions. The Pentagon would be hit disproportionately, but some hope that with a little discretion, the administration could spare the military and other departments from a devastating budget blow.
Republicans reportedly are working on a bill this week that would grant Obama's Cabinet more leeway to target the cuts in a responsible way.
In an interview with Fox News, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker seemed to get behind the plan.
"Why not empower the president and his administration, give them the authority within their budgets to make those changes?" Walker said Monday.
Walker said he thinks some of the administration's warnings amount to scare tactics. "There's no doubt about it, that's why I said call the bluff, give them the authority to do this," Walker said. "There's always a better way, there's certainly enough waste to be cut in this town. Why not give the president and his Cabinet...the authority to do that."
On "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), said Obama was "absolutely" exaggerating the impact of the cuts.
"They have plenty of flexibility in terms of discretion on how they spend money. There are easy ways to cut this money that the American people will never feel," he said.
There is an ongoing debate over how much flexibility the Obama administration currently has. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Friday, warning that FAA cutbacks and furloughs would lead to delays at airports across the country, adamantly denied that Cabinet secretaries such as himself had the flexibility to target the cuts.
Politifact.com, examining these competing claims, noted last week that the cuts are largely across the board, in that the same percentage cut is supposed to impact all programs within a budget.
However, the fact-check site said federal managers do have "a fair amount of discretion" on what to cut within specific programs.
According to The Washington Post, Republicans are looking to draft a bill giving the administration more leeway to target the cuts.
However, it's unclear whether any such bill could clear the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Democrats have a bill of their own that would blend tax hikes and spending cuts, along the lines of what Obama has recommended. Both parties are expected to push their respective plans, but so far little headway has been made toward a bipartisan compromise.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 02/25/2013
Editor's Note: Remember the Alinsky rule and what then-Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." This basics Alinsky rule, as employed by the Obama Administration, is augmented to be understood as, "Never let a manufactured and marketed crisis go to waste."
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