As President Obama and congressional Republicans faced the world today with the news that they were unable to reach an agreement to avoid $85 billion in brutal across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester, Obama had to contend with an old nemesis, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, point the finger of blame at him.
In a clip from his appearance on Fox News that airs Sunday, Romney said the president made a mistake in “berating” Republicans over their refusal to accept the closing of tax loopholes for the wealthy as part of a compromise on the sequester.
“Well, no one can think that’s been a success for the president. He didn’t think the sequester would happen. It is happening,” Romney said. “But to date, what we’ve seen is the president out campaigning to the American people, doing rallies around the country, flying around the country, and berating Republicans. And blaming and pointing. Now what does that do? That causes the Republicans to retrench and then put up a wall and fight back. It’s a very natural human emotion.”
After a one-hour meeting at the White House with top Congressional leaders, Obama announced that the “dumb, arbitrary” cuts would go into effect tonight at midnight because a deal could not be reached.
Obama predicted that the American people will manage to keep the economic recovery going, though “Washington sure isn’t making it easy.”
“This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think, as some people have said,” Obama said. “It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt.”
He said it will be “a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day,” with the effects being felt throughout the government, including the Pentagon, Border Patrol, FBI, and social service agencies.
“I don’t anticipate a huge financial crisis,” Obama said, “but people are going to be hurt.”
So will Washington’s reputation, he added.
“You know, this is not a win for anybody,” Obama said. “This is a loss for the American people.”
But Boehner and the Republicans were clear that they were not interested in any deal that included more taxes.
“Let’s make it clear, the president got his tax hike on January 1st,” Boehner told reporters after the meeting ended. “The discussion about revenue, in my view, is over. It’s about taking on the spending problem here in Washington.”
A story in yesterday’s New York Times indicated that Boehner is being hailed as a hero among the conservative Republican House members, who were fearful that he was going to agree to another tax hike, as he did with the fiscal cliff negotiations.
The more Boehner refuses to even talk with Obama, the New York Times story said, the more he improves his standing among House Republicans. The likely result is that even when the pain visited on the American people is extreme, Boehner will have no incentive to negotiate.