Lawmakers: Budget cuts inescapable
Officials on both sides of the aisle in Washington, D.C., agreed that budget cuts to go into effect on Friday will go forward with no agreement to forestall reducing discretionary spending by about 2 percent.
“It appears that neither the Democratic nor Republican plans are bound to pass this week,” Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said Wednesday, calling for “a balanced and comprehensive approach to reduce the deficit.”
Uncertainty as to the effects of the sequester, which was the result of 2011 legislation intended to force agreement, “is one of the major problems with the president’s sequester,” the office of U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said.
President Barack Obama and congressional leaders are to meet Friday, the first day of sequestration, and Udall said he hoped the meeting would produce a compromise.
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., pointed no fingers as to the cause of the sequester, but called it “poor policy and bluntly designed.”
Failure to reach a budget agreement is undermining confidence in the economy and markets will suffer, Bennet’s office said, noting that he continues to call for adoption of the Simpson-Bowles debt-reduction recommendation.
The House has twice voted on plans that would replace sequestration, but neither measure has been taken up by the Senate or addressed by Obama, Tipton’s office said, noting that the Senate has not passed a budget in 1,400 days. The cuts affect defense and domestic spending equally, but only discretionary spending. Spending on entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare is unaffected. Obama warned Wednesday that the looming cuts will cause a “tumble downward” for the economy.
Speaking to business executives, he acknowledged many people may not immediately notice the full impact of the so-called sequester cuts if they take effect Friday. But he says yanking $85 billion from the economy this year would be a “big hit” on a nation still trying to fully recover from a recession.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.