The White House today pushed back against Republican efforts to pin looming deep budget cuts on President Obama, calling it a "lot of baloney."
"The notion much propounded by the spin doctors on the Republican side that the sequester is somehow something that the White House or the president alone wanted or desired is a fanciful confection," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters. "The fact of the matter is, as I think you all recall in the wake of the passage of the Budget Control Act, it was the Republicans, including the Republican leader of the House, who celebrated it as getting 98 percent of what they wanted."
The sequester was designed in 2011 as a trigger to force Congress and the White House to agree to significant, long-term deficit reduction over the next 10 years. While lawmakers have agreed to $2.5 trillion in deficit savings, more progress is needed.
"It was designed by Republicans and Democrats to be so onerous that it would never come into place because it would force and compel Congress to do something more responsible, which is reduce the deficit," Carney said.
As the clock ticks toward the March 1 deadline, when the sequester cuts will take effect, Republicans have been highlighting Bob Woodward's reporting that the idea for the sequester originated in the White House during the debt ceiling negotiations of August 2011.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Republicans on Capitol Hill took to Twitter today to label the idea "#obamaquester," and several replaced their photos on Twitter with a picture of the passage from Woodward's book, "The Price of Politics," that they claim proves the idea came from the Obama administration.
The president has urged lawmakers to pass a short-term package of spending cuts and tax revenue to head off the across-the-board cuts, warning of dire economic consequences if Congress fails to act.