WASHINGTON — The White House on Thursday turned up the heat on congressional Republicans over finding a way to replace pending national defense cuts, questioning whether GOP lawmakers “care.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, citing a media report, says it is increasingly clear that Capitol Hill Republicans simply “don’t really care” if the $500 billion, decade-long cut is triggered next Friday.
Carney contends Republicans are “anticipating the sequester will go into effect, and they’re not willing to do what the American public, as we’ve seen in poll after poll, overwhelmingly supports, which is to adopt the president’s position of eliminating the sequester through a balanced deficit reduction plan.”
A poll released earlier Thursday by USA Today and the Pew Research Center found 49 percent of Americans favor at least delaying twin $500 billion cuts to planned national defense and domestic spending. Economists say the cuts would hurt the economy; Pentagon officials say they would hinder national security.
“[Republicans] are not willing to protect the jobs of what the CBO predicts could be up to 750,000 Americans by asking oil and gas companies to forgo their taxpayer subsidies, or corporate jet owners to give up their special tax break,” Carney said sharply during a White House press briefing. “They’re not willing to do that. And this is very disappointing.”
Congressional GOP leaders, however, contend they have passed several measures, built exclusively on more federal spending cuts, to avoid the defense cuts. They also say Obama and congressional Democrats want more federal revenues — read: tax hikes — to be part of any package to avoid the cuts, something Republicans vehemently oppose.
What’s more, the White House announced Obama will visit Newport News shipyard in southeastern Virginia on Tuesday.
As the president visits that facility, mingling with civilian employees who would be most impacted by the immediate effects of the cuts, House and Senate lawmakers will be in Washington.
Whether the lawmakers will be searching for a sequester solution or racing to microphones to continue this week’s blame game, however, remains to be seen.