“Thankfully, I’m seeing some encouraging signs from Republicans who are sick and tired of being boxed in by the most extreme elements of their base — who don’t like being responsible for continued manufactured crises that hurt the economy and destroy our nation’s faith in its government — and who are concerned about the impact of sequestration,” Murray said.
“In the privacy of back rooms and in small gangs, Republicans are far more willing to discuss the need for revenue. And there are some Republicans passionate about national defense and willing to make some tough choices on revenue to protect the Pentagon.”
And Murray said definitively, “We are also not going to allow just the defense cuts to be replaced without addressing the domestic spending cuts that would be devastating to the middle class. ”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), also a member of the super committee, defended the GOP’s role on the deadlocked panel after Murray laid out what she saw as a multitude of Republican sins that led to negotiations falling flat.
Despite offering a framework that included lowering all income tax rates offset by reducing the value of deductions, a plan his colleagues “were generally willing to support,” Toomey said “unfortunately, we could progress no further because the Democrats were unwilling to retreat from their trillion-dollar tax-hike demands.”
Republican leaders wrote Obama on Friday to urge his cooperation in helping avert disastrous defense cuts, protesting an administration-proposed six-month postponement of the sequester that would knock its implementation clean past Inauguration Day but “would actually exacerbate the cut’s impact since agencies would be forced to absorb the same cut in the three remaining months of the fiscal year rather than over nine months.”
“Even though the Administration has yet to put forward a plan to address this issue, the House of Representatives took responsible action in May by passing legislation that would replace the 2013 sequester with other common-sense spending reductions and reforms,” wrote House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Senate Minority Whip Kyl.
“A group of Senate Republicans has introduced a bill to replace the 2013 sequester with savings attributed to extending the current federal pay freeze for 18 months and reducing the federal workforce through attrition. Your Administration has not commented on the Senate bill and issued a statement saying that your senior advisors would recommend that you veto the House proposal, citing in part your desire for economically damaging tax increases.”
The House is expected to consider this week the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, sponsored by the Republican co-chair of the super committee, Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). It would require Obama to detail within 30 days of passage how he plans to handle the deep cuts.
Defense Department spokesman George Little was asked at today’s briefing if the Pentagon was able to plan for the sequester of FY 2013 funds.
“It’s a very fair question. We are, obviously, assessing the potential impacts of sequestration,” Little said. “But, clearly, we do need to take a look at contracts and take that into account, should sequestration go into effect.”
A new report issued today, commissioned by the Aerospace Industries Association, warned that the sequestration could whack more than 2 million jobs and add 1.5 percent to the unemployment rate, along with stripping $215 billion from the nation’s GDP.
“The results are bleak but clear-cut,” said Stephen S. Fuller of George Mason University, who conducted the study. This would include the loss of 325,693 Defense Department jobs, including 48,147 civilian DoD employees, 282,426 jobs lost at defense contractors, and 482,240 jobs lost that are dependent on payroll spending of the laid-off defense workers.
“Democratic leaders like our colleague from Washington state are apparently ready to stand by and allow truly draconian across-the-board defense cuts, even though the president’s own secretary of Defense has said these cuts would ‘hollow out’ our military and be ‘catastrophic’ to our national security,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said on the Senate floor yesterday.
“It simply amazes and discourages me that some people are willing to play chicken with our economy and our national security in such a cavalier, calculated sort of way.”