Spending Daily February 8, 2013

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Spending Daily | February 8, 2013

With No Spending Cut Offsets, Political Blame Game Continues 
POLITICO reports, “Republicans open to letting billions in sequester cuts go through figure they can blame the president if the economy goes south. But Democrats are betting they can shift that blame right back to the GOP. They’re so confident, in fact, that they’re already eyeing at least 10 Republican-held seats with strong military connections from Florida to California to target in 2014, after sequester cuts have trickled down to local bases where jobs are lost and voters notice. … Even if the targeted GOP members work to stop the cuts and cast votes to stop them from going into effect, Democrats say the Republicans’ electoral prospects could still be dragged down if enough conservatives win on forcing sequestration to happen anyway. … If voters are looking to pin the blame on anyone, several Republicans said Obama and the Senate Democrats should face the consequences for not agreeing to legislation passed by the House that could have already turned sequestration off.”

Dems Dig in Against Calls For Spending Cuts
POLITCO reports, “Senate Democrats are digging in against Republican calls for deeper spending cuts by bringing out some of their favorite punching bags: corporate jets, Wall Street and Big Oil. With the automatic budget cuts in the sequester coming up next month, Democrats hope to vote on an alternative plan to raise taxes on some of their favorite boogeymen in hopes of shifting the blame when the GOP inevitably rejects it. … The Democratic public pressure campaign is expected to begin in earnest next week, starting with President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday and a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing expected Thursday at which senior administration officials will most likely sound the alarm that so-called sequestration cuts would devastate the economy.”

Obama Vows To Go After GOP On Taxes
The New York Times reports, “President Obama vowed Thursday to confront Republicans over the issue of closing tax loopholes, saying that he would relish a debate with those who insist that Congress has done all it should to get more tax revenue from wealthy individuals and corporations. Speaking to a group of House Democrats here who are gathering for a policy retreat, the president sounded defiant at times as he sketched out his positions ahead of the looming deadlines that will force Congress and the White House to negotiate a series of complicated fiscal deals in the coming weeks. Mr. Obama said the key to avoiding the across-the-board spending cuts that would go into effect on March 1 was for Democrats and Republicans to resolve their differences over how to replace those cuts.”

GOP Urged To “Stand Strong” On Sequester
Roll Call reports, “Despite early protestations against a sequester many members voted for, congressional Republicans are preparing to go past a March 1 deadline that would trigger across-the-board spending cuts without agreeing to alternative legislation.At the annual Senate GOP retreat earlier this week, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., delivered a message to the conference that standing strong on the scheduled spending cuts would be preferable to a deal to replace it that included any revenue. … With billions in spending cuts already written in law from 2011’s Budget Control Act, some see Republicans as having little incentive to come to the table in a recess-shortened February, if at all. … Democrats, led by President Barack Obama, have said they will not agree to any deal that is not balanced between further cuts and revenue.”

Energy Department Considers Plans To Cut Back 
The Hill reports, “The Energy Department (DOE) is considering furloughing employees to reduce costs if automatic spending cuts from sequestration occur, according to an internal memo obtained by The Hill. … The email underscores the uncertainty federal agencies face with $85 billion of cuts scheduled to take effect March 1. The cuts would slash discretionary spending government-wide by 8.2 percent. … Bloomberg BNA was the first to report on the memo, which outlined a series of cost-cutting measures the department could pursue. Other options included reexamining contracts and grants, slashing administrative costs such as travel, training and facilities, and possibly ‘making cuts to vital programs.'”

Senate Democrats Struggle To Craft Plan For Sequester Replacement”
The Hill reports, “Senate Democrats are struggling to come up with a replacement for the $85 billion spending-cut sequester set to begin on March 1. … The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over tax issues, but Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mt.), the panel’s chairman, said he wasn’t sure who would lead the bill through the Senate. Asked if he would be the senator shepherding the bill, he responded: ‘Good question.’ Both Senate Democrats and House Republicans are determined to not be blamed if the sequester does go into effect. … But huge differences remain between Republicans and the White House, raising questions about whether a deal can be reached to avert the cuts. Neither side has offered a plan for replacing the sequester.”

“Upton: Time to save Medicaid”
Rep. Fred Upton writes in The Washington Times, “Americans’ frustration with Washington’s inability to cut spending is mounting. For two years, Congress has been entangled in a disorienting tango, stumbling to reach a bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction. While the left seems obsessed with increasing taxes and spending even more money, conservatives have focused more heavily on the need for spending restraint and entitlement reform — primarily to preserve and protect the future of the Medicare program. Overlooked in all of this is the future of Medicaid. Medicaid has consistently flown beneath the radar in debates, almost disregarded at times and even deemed untouchable by progressive ideologues. Yet without reform, this program will continue to decline, sentencing our most vulnerable citizens to inferior health care. … Worse yet, even with this program’s poor track record and our current spending crisis, the Obamacare expansion will cost more than $600 billion over the next 10 years. We’re in an unimaginable fiscal hole as a nation, yet Obamacare calls for continued digging with no guarantees of better health outcomes. We know such areas of outrageous spending demandprogram improvements, and we must have the courage to do what is right to rescue future generations.”

Is This The Most Important State Of The Union Of Obama’s Presidency?
The Washington Post reports,  “In four days, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address, an annual speech before Congress that is arguably the most important one a president is tasked with giving. And for Obama, this particular speech may end up being the most important State of the Union of his entire presidency. n a nutshell, this is the speech that is best-suited to embody the ideas of Obama’s presidency. Whereas Obama’s previous State of the Union speeches have been delivered in the shadow of the previous administration or an upcoming election, and future speeches will be likely be constrained by politics – more on that in a moment – this address comes as Obama has embraced a far-reaching legislative agenda and is far-removed from the beginning and end of his presidency. … Looking ahead, it’s easy to see how Obama’a future State of the Union speeches could easily be less memorable. In 2014, Obama will be addressing Congress in the run up to the midterm elections, so his legislative agenda isn’t expected to be nearly as packed. Things simply don’t get done during election years the way they do in off years.”