It’s time to wish America a not-so-happy Sequester Day.
The sweeping $85 billion package of across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect Friday if Congress cannot hammer out a deal by 11:59 p.m. Of course, such a deal is highly, highly unlikely.
President Obama met with congressional leaders of both parties on Friday, but there were no immediate results.
Afterward, he gave a press conference in which he laid blame at the feet of the GOP and called it a “loss for the American people.”
“Let’s be clear, none of this is necessary. It’s happening because a choice that Republicans in Congress made.” The president added that Republicans have allowed the cuts to happen “because they refused to budge on closing a single, wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit.”
The left had a plan that would essentially delay the sequester until next January and replace it with a $110 billion mixture of tax increases and spending cuts. The GOP has said it won’t accept any type of bargain that includes new taxes. On Thursday the Senate failed to pass GOP and Democratic alternatives to avoid the sequester.
The cuts will start taking place almost immediately, although analysts say the effects of the sequester won’t really be felt until months from now. It includes $85 billion in reductions this year, and $1.2 trillion over a decade. The cuts are an equal mix of from the Pentagon and discretionary spending. The White House has been issuing stern warnings, highlighting what would happen in all 50 states if Congress failed to intervene.
When asked if the Dems should share some of the responsibility, and why he doesn’t sit with lawmakers until a deal is reached, Obama invoked Star Wars and said, “I am not a dictator. I am the president. I cannot have Secret Service block the doorway…I know that there has been some conventional wisdom that has been floating around Washington, that somehow, even though most people agree that I am being reasonable…that somehow I should do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what is right.”
After the meeting, House Speaker John Boehner insisted the GOP will continue to stand against Democratic proposals to raise new revenues to offset the cuts. On Thursday, House GOPers cheered Boehner when he cut off negotiations with the White House.
“The discussion about revenue, in my opinion is over,” the Ohio Republican said on Friday. “It’s about taking on the spending problem here in Washington.” He added Congress will meet next week on a measure to fund the government past March 27, when the government officially runs out of money.
For more on the sequester, please turn into Hardball at 5 and 7 p.m. EST. We’ll have MSNBC political analysts Michael Steele, former RNC Chair and David Corn of Mother Jones to weigh in.