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Sequester: 'It's your fault....No, your fault!' (+video)

With just five days to go until the sequester's automatic spending cuts kick in, what's Washington doing about it? Not negotiating like responsible adults, but mainly pointing fingers of blame.

By Staff writer / February 24, 2013

President Obama pauses as he speaks about the sequester last week. The White House and congressional Republicans are arguing over who's responsible for the across-the-board spending cuts that could kick in Friday.

Charles Dharapak/AP


Just five days before the “sequester” and its automatic across-the-board spending cuts kicks in, Washington seems frozen in its inability to deal with what most people think is a terrible way to address the federal deficit – no apparent negotiations between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans, assigning political blame the main activity.

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Monitor correspondent Liz Marlantes discusses sequestration from both the Republican and Democratic viewpoints.

The finger-pointing began Saturday with President Obama’s weekly radio/web address and the Republican response from Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota.

“Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids’ schools and mental health care just to protect tax loopholes for corporate jet owners?” Mr. Obama asked. “Are they really willing to slash military health care and the border patrol just because they refuse to eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies?  Are they seriously prepared to inflict more pain on the middle class because they refuse to ask anything more of those at the very top? These are the questions Republicans in Congress need to ask themselves.”

Senator Hoeven countered with, “Why won’t he work with us? And the answer, quite simply, is because he wants higher taxes.”

“President Obama … not only wants higher taxes; he’s actually preventing economic growth and private-sector job creation,” he said. “He is blocking it with more regulation, red tape, and bureaucracy.”

On Sunday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood repeated his warning that the sequester could mean bad news for travelers as air traffic controllers were furloughed and some small regional airports shut down.

But Mr. LaHood – a former congressman from Illinois and the lone Republican in the Obama cabinet – took a shot at his fellow party members, too.

"Well, look it, I'm a Republican,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Nation.” “My audience is trying to persuade my former colleagues that they need to come to the table with a proposal, which ... they haven't done. While the president has, the Republicans haven't.”

Over on CBS's "Face the Nation,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned of the impact just the threat of sequestration is having on his field.

"There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can't come back this fall," Mr. Duncan said

Republicans pushed back against such dire warnings.

“Stop sending out your cabinet secretaries to scare the American people,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

"Shame on Ray LaHood," Sen. John McCain responded when asked about the transportation secretary's shot at Republicans on "State of the Union."

As to who’s responsible for the sequester, Senator McCain pointed to the most-read item in Sunday’s political news: Bob Woodward’s op-ed piece in The Washington Post.


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