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Gridlock: No budging at the budget-cuts deadline

Posted: March 1, 2013 6:42 p.m.
Updated: March 1, 2013 6:42 p.m.

Gridlocked once more, President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders refused to budge in their budget standoff Friday as $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts bore down on individual Americans and the nation’s still-recovering economy.

“None of this is necessary,” said the president after a sterile White House meeting that suggested a lengthy standoff.

Even before Obama formally ordered the cuts required by midnight, their impact was felt thousands of miles away. In Seattle, the King County Housing Authority announced it had stopped issuing housing vouchers under a federal program that benefits “elderly or disabled households, veterans, and families with children.”

The president met with top lawmakers for less than an hour at the White House, then sought repeatedly to fix the blame on Republicans for the broad spending reductions and any damage they inflict.

“They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit,” he said, renewing his demand for a comprehensive deficit-cutting deal that includes higher taxes.

Republicans said they wanted deficit cuts, too, but not tax increases. “The president got his tax hikes on Jan. 1,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters, a reference to a $600 billion increase on higher wage earners that cleared Congress on the first day of the year.

Now, he said after the meeting, it is time take on “the spending problem here in Washington.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was equally emphatic. “I will not be part of any back-room deal, and I will absolutely not agree to increase taxes,” he vowed in a written statement.

After Friday’s deadline to avoid sequestration came and went, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, placed the blame for the latest budget standoff squarely on the shoulders of Obama and Democrats.

“As I see it, he’s not been serious about fixing this,” McKeon told The Signal in an interview Friday. “He’s the only one that’s elected by everyone in the country; it’s his responsibility to pull people together and to lead.”

McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, used similar language during a news conference earlier Friday.

“I have never in my lifetime seen such a lack of leadership and truth-telling emanating from the White House and from our commander-in-chief,” McKeon said.




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