WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite their unpopularity, those deep federal spending cuts look like they’ll be around for a while.
There appears to be little in the works to undo the budget cuts, although President Barack Obama is calling lawmakers to cajole them to undo them.
But the Senate’s Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday called those cuts modest and House Speaker John Boehner said he isn’t sure they will hurt the economy. White House economic adviser Gene Sperling says the pain isn’t that bad — yet.
After months of dire warnings, the deep budget cuts have started taking hold and there’s no evidence officials are moving to reverse the $85 billion in reductions.
“This modest reduction of 2.4 percent in spending over the next six months is a little more than the average American experienced just two months ago, when their own pay went down when the payroll tax holiday expired,” McConnell said.
“I don’t know whether it’s going to hurt the economy or not,” Boehner said. “I don’t think anyone quite understands how the sequester is really going to work.”
But Sperling cautioned: “On Day One, it will not be as harmful as it will be over time.”
Both parties cast blame on the other for the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts but gave little guidance on what to expect in the coming weeks. Republicans and Democrats pledged to retroactively undo the cuts, but signaled no hints as to how that process would start to take shape. Republicans insisted there would be no new taxes and Democrats refused to talk about any bargain without them.
“That’s not going to work,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. “If we’re going to increase revenue again, it’s got to go to the debt with real entitlement reform and real tax reform when you actually lower rates. … I’m not going to agree to any more tax increases that are going to go to increase more government.”