In fact, many Republicans now see the automatic cuts in spending as the only way to tackle the federal deficit. Some liberals won’t balk either because they want cuts in Pentagon spending. And many Democrats believe the cuts will have to materialize before Republicans agree to some increase in taxes.
“Some Democrats want it because of the defense cuts, and Republicans want it because they want to do anything to cut domestic spending,” said Brendan Daly, a former top aide to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the former House speaker and now Democratic leader. “And politically, it’s difficult to oppose because the impact won’t be so severe right away.”
Democratic consultant Jim Manley, a former Senate leadership aide who periodically consults with Obama officials, added: “Not only do I expect the sequester to kick in, but unfortunately it will take a couple of temporary government shutdowns before Republicans realize they need to sit down and negotiate in good faith.”
White House officials say they believe Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio will ultimately relent in his opposition to additional taxes. They note that despite his initial stand against increasing tax rates in December, he eventually allowed a House vote to proceed raising the top rate on the wealthiest taxpayers.
Not this time, he said Tuesday: “The American people understand that the revenue debate is now closed.”
House Republicans have proposed an alternative to the broad, immediate budget cuts, targeting specific spending and extending some of the reductions over a longer period of time. They also have said they are willing to undertake changes in the tax code and eliminate loopholes and tax subsidies. But they have said they would overhaul the tax system to reduce rates, not to raise revenue.
Boehner said in a statement following Obama’s remarks: “Tax reform is a once-in-a generation opportunity to boost job creation in America. It should not be squandered to enable more Washington spending. Spending is the problem, spending must be the focus.”