In true Washington fashion, the president and congressional leaders will wait until Friday, when the sequester kicks in, to have a face-to-face meeting to discuss ways to prevent the across-the-board cuts.
The lack of communication between the White House and congressional Republicans signals that any solution to avoid the cuts by Friday is highly unlikely. - Read more at The Hill
SENATE GOP: LET OBAMA FIX IT Senate Republicans are floating a bill that shifts responsibility to the president for replacing the $85 billion in sequester cuts with an equal level of savings under a plan that must be filed before March 8. The bill prohibits the president from cutting more than $42.6 billion from defense.
If Congress is dissatisfied with the White House proposal, a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate would be needed to overturn the president’s spending plan before March 22. - Read more at Politico
CUTS COULD BACKFIRE But some Republican Senators fear that giving the White House authority to replace the cuts could backfire. “Some members of our conference are suspicious of the administration taking advantage of such flexibility to punish their political enemies,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Roll Call. The GOP is expected to introduce a bill on Wednesday, though a divide in the party may result in several proposals. – Read more at Roll Call
MEANWHILE, FOR SENATE DEMS Most Democrats are expected to support Majority Leader Harry Reid’s $110 billion sequester replacement bill that would phase in a new minimum tax on those making more than $1M a year, close corporate tax loopholes, end direct farm payments, and delay defense cuts. - Read more at The Hill
‘REPLACE SEQUESTER,’ SAY AMERICANS An overwhelming 75 percent of Americans want Congress to replace the sequester before Friday, according to the latest Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s Fiscal Confidence Index. This isn’t surprising. Even most lawmakers in Washington agree the cuts would be terrible. - See the results here
DON’T EXPECT A PEACE DIVIDEND Welcome to the world of newly confirmed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “Unless the White House plans to continue to borrow money at the clip it did to finance two wars, there won’t be any new money to fund the infrastructure programs Obama is touting,” reports David Francis of The Fiscal Times. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
RAISE TAXES, CRIPPLE THE ECONOMY Columnist Liz Peek writes in The Fiscal Times: “Republicans need a new playbook, and here it is: The reason that “revenue increases,” as Obama calls them, are worse than spending cuts is that a tax hike sucks money from the private sector, which depresses consumer demand, which lowers profits and stalls hiring and investment. In contrast, cutting government spending means less money is taken out of the private sector – money that could have contributed to higher spending and hiring. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
WEALTH GAP WIDENS BETWEEN RACES Home ownership, education and inheritances are widening the wealth gap between blacks and whites in America, according to a new study by Brandeis University. The wealth gap between the two races has nearly tripled over the past 25 years, ballooning to $265,000 in 2009, from $85,000 in 1984. By 2009, the average net worth of white families was $265,000, while that of black families was at $28,500. - Read more at CNN