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Obama, Republicans maneuver over sequester, government shut-down

Two days after sequester-driven budget cuts went into effect, both sides in the battle – Republican lawmakers and the Obama White House – went into a 'Plan B' of sorts.

By Staff writer / March 3, 2013

Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington Sunday.

William B. Plowman/NBC/REUTERS

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Two days after sequester-driven budget cuts went into effect, both sides in the battle – Republican lawmakers and the Obama White House – went into a “Plan B” of sorts.

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At this point there isn’t much to it. Spokesmen from each side flooded the Sunday TV news shows with reiterated positions and little sign of give. Meanwhile, President Obama has been phoning senators of both parties, looking for what White House economic adviser Gene Sperling calls “a coalition of the willing, a caucus for common sense.”

“He’s making those calls … trying to build trust, so he’s going to be having a lot more conversations like that,” Mr. Sperling said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. On the Democratic side, that means long-term entitlement reform to cut costs; on the Republican side, a reform of the tax code that would increase revenues.

The more immediate problem is what to do about the sequester and its $85 billion in across-the-board cuts to defense and nondefense spending.

”As this pain starts to gradually spread to communities affected by military spending, to children who need mental health services, to people who care about our border security, I believe that more Republican colleagues who are concerned about this harm to their constituents will choose bipartisan compromise on revenue-raising tax reform with serious entitlement reform,” Sperling said on ABC’s “This Week.”

[We can’t mention Sperling without noting that his feud with Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward over the sequester’s paternity seems to have sputtered out. On ABC’s “This Week,” Sperling called Mr. Woodward “a legend,” and he described their relationship as "very friendly and respectful." On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Woodward said he’d be inviting Sperling over for dinner. “I'm going to invite him over to my house if he'll come and hopefully he'll bring others from the White House, maybe the president himself,” he said. “You know, talking really works."]

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