With the sequester due to take effect in less than a month, Republican leaders are feeling the pressure to cut a deal, reports Politico
Top GOP aides tell the news organization that the automatic spending cuts, which would mean layoffs, furloughs, and possibly a stalled economic recovery, could take a toll the party leadership would prefer to avoid.
Indeed, House Speaker John Boehner said at his weekly news conference, “Let me make clear: I don’t like the sequester.”
“I think it’s taking a meat ax to our government, a meat ax to many programs and it will weaken our national defense,” he continued. “That’s why I fought to not have the sequester in the first place.”
But the White House and the GOP are still at odds as to how to avoid the fiscal cliff, and aides said Boehner would choose to allow the sequester to move forward if he fails to get the kind of agreement he wants that includes more targeted spending cuts.
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have indicated they will attempt to delay the sequester, which is set to begin on March 2, with a mix of automatic spending cuts and revenue increases.
Among the options being considered by Republicans, says Politico, are changing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, which GOP aides claim would raise $110 billion, and changes to Medicare premiums, which would raise $35 billion.
Other cost savers could include revising the Medicaid-provider tax, repealing some social services block grant programs, changing agriculture support programs, and medical liability reform.
Those options are likely, however, to face stiff opposition from Democrats.
President Barack Obama’s blueprint for stopping the sequester includes what he calls balanced spending cuts and changes in the tax code designed to raise revenue.
Obama has said he wants to close tax loopholes as part of any plan, but House Republicans are reluctant to concede on raising taxes.
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