Less than a month after the White House was firing salvos almost daily at congressional Republicans over their refusal at the time to extend the debt ceiling, the same barrage of harsh rhetoric was launched Wednesday from one end of Pennsylvania to the otherâ??this time over sequestration.
With the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration set to become law on March 1, the Presidentâ??s top spokesman today began a fresh round of attacking Republican lawmakers for â??political brinkmanshipâ? on the issue. Much as the White House attacked Republicans for refusing to raise taxes on â??millionaires and billionairesâ? and â??authors who write best-selling booksâ? during the debt ceiling debate, Press Secretary Jay Carney is now charging that Republicans want to preserve loopholes for â??corporate jet ownersâ? and â??hedge fund managers.â?
In his regular briefing for reporters at the White House, Carney said that the alternative to sequestration must be â??a balanced approach, an approach which has always in the Presidentâ??s proposals seen more spending cuts than revenue, and that reflects the kind of balance that allows us to make sure that the burden of deficit reduction is not borne solely by senior citizens or the middle class but more broadly; that asks the wealthiest, including corporations, to pay their fair share; asks people to play by the same set of rules. Thatâ??s just an approach that is broadly supported by the American people.â?
â??And it makes sense, as it did in getting us to the $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction weâ??ve achieved so far, it makes sense in getting us further along the road.
Turning to the sequester that is about to take effect in a few weeks, Carney warned that failure to come up with an alternative plan would mean â??[a]cross-the-board cuts to education, to research and development would have damaging effects on our economy and our long-term economic prospects. They would also have damaging effects on border security.â?
Referring to Republicans in the House, Carney said: â??[W]e disagree with those in Congress who increasingly seem to suggest that it would be a good thing or a welcome thing to have in your â??back pocketâ? to make happen, or to use as a means of â??member management.â? Inflicting damage on the economy as — to achieve some political goals here in Washington seems like a very bad idea.â?
If it all sounds familiar, it is because this kind of talk was deployed so often from the White House press room during the debt ceiling debate. One should get used to hearing it during the sequestration debate and later, during the debate over the continuing resolution.