Briefing

After the 'sequester,' now what?

$85 billion in across-the-board cuts to defense and social programs took effect March 1. The cuts must occur this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Here's how things look.

By , Staff writers

2. Q: So the sequester is here. What does the White House do now?

First, tone down the rhetoric. Mr. Obama's predictions of lost jobs and a slowing economy did not push Republicans into agreeing to a deal containing increased tax revenues. Given that the effects of the budget cuts will take some time to get rolling, the White House is moving away a bit from dire talk. Democrats don't want to be portrayed as the budg-eteers who cried wolf once too often.

The effects of the sequester will be felt slowly. Still, said White House economic adviser Gene Sperling on ABC's "This Week," "Every independent economist agrees it is going to cost our economy 750,000 jobs just as our economy has a chance to take off." (That is, unless a deal is struck.)

Second, the administration wants to give the appearance of a sadder but wiser group that's pivoting to other business – cabinet appointments, immigration reform, early childhood education, gun control.

Third, the White House will continue lower-level efforts at negotiating an end to the sequester. Obama talked with a number of lawmakers in early March to see if any movement on the issue was possible. Top leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, must buy into any compromise.

But the president's overtures are seen as a promising step by some observers (Speaker Boehner described himself as "hopeful" on March 7, adding that moving toward a deal is an "organic process.")

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