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'Sequester' blues: Morning-after hangover hits Washington

The morning after the 'sequester' spending cuts went into effect, the earth did not stand still nor did Washington come to its collective senses. Next up: How to avoid a government shutdown March 27 when federal spending expires without a continuing resolution.

By Staff writer / March 2, 2013

President Obama speaks about the 'sequester' after a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House Friday. Mr. Obama pressed Congress to avoid a government shutdown when federal spending authority runs out on March 27, saying it is the 'right thing to do.'

Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS

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The morning after the "sequester" spending cuts went into effect – $85 billion in an across-the-board whack to both defense and nondefense programs – the earth did not stand still nor did Washington come to its collective senses.

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Both the White House and Republicans in Congress seemed spent as they sputtered out their political talking points about what everyone agrees is a lousy way to do the nation’s business.

"It's happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps reduce the deficit," President Obama said in his weekly radio/Internet address.

The rebuttal Saturday morning came from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) of Washington.

"The American people know full well that if they give this White House more tax revenue, it will be spent on new stimulus projects and government programs,” she said in the GOP address. "Instead of campaigning for higher taxes, the president should lead an effort to begin addressing our nation's spending problem.”

Since he won reelection, Mr. Obama seems to have kept the political upper hand – at least according to recent polls showing him more popular than congressional Republicans, both personally and in terms of policy.

The Pew Research Center finds that 62 percent of those surveyed (including 36 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents) agree that the GOP is “out of touch with the American people.”

Still, warns analyst Charlie Cook in the National Journal, “All sides should take notice of the mounting public disgust.”

“There is still a threat that public ire is aimed more institutionally – at Congress, at Washington, and at all politicians who work in Washington,” he writes. “The turbulence caused by this universal anger could manifest itself in many ways, selectively hurting members of both parties, depending on their political circumstances.”

That includes Obama as he tries to dig into his second term, which will determine his legacy.

“He set into a motion a risky strategy that rests entirely on the slim chance that Republicans do an about-face on tax hikes after a public outcry,” writes Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown. “Obama faces an uncertain few months as he attempts to balance a series of budget battles with his ambitious second-term agenda, all while hoping that the sequester doesn’t dampen the fragile economic recovery that he’s worked hard to achieve.”

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