WASHINGTON — Believe it or not, there is some bipartisan agreement in Washington, D.C. The problem is Republicans and Democrats agree those automatic spending cuts known as the “sequester” will probably start on Friday, the deadline for a budget agreement.
From Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri: “Unless the Republicans are willing to compromise and do a balanced approach, I think it will kick in.”
And from Republican Sen. Coburn of Oklahoma: “It will kick in…but you’re not going to see $85 billion all of a sudden shrink from the federal government.”
The two senators appeared on “FOX News Sunday.”
Meanwhile, the administration continues to warn of dire consequences. The Transportation Secretary and the Education Secretary made the rounds today offering examples of what will happen if the sequester is triggered on Friday.
“The sequester doesn’t allow us to move money around. That’s the difference here. If we could shift money around, certainly we would do that. These are very tough decisions,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The roadblock is a budget agreement. President Obama wants what he calls a balanced approach — spending cuts with additional tax revenue. The Republicans refused to increase revenues, saying they already raised taxes on the rich earlier this year.
The cuts set to be triggered on Friday will range from 5 percent to 7 percent for most government departments. They will be phased in over the next six months. Workers, who may be furloughed for up to three weeks, will get 30 days warning before they must stay home.
These are across-the-board cuts that trouble supporters of the Pentagon.
“I can find lots of waste and mismanagement, but, by God, across the board cuts are the worst and most cowardly way to approach this situation,” said Sen. John McCain on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
There is a promise from Democrats that something will be passed in the Senate this week to stop sequestration.
“We will vote on something this week. And it will be a balanced approach. It will do both spending cuts, and it will close some loopholes — some really important loopholes that need to be closed just from the sense of fairness in our tax code,” McCaskill said.
But such a bill is unlikely to get through the Republican House.