Published : 2013-02-25 22:22
Updated : 2013-02-25 22:22
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The $85 billion in budget cuts set to hit the U.S. on Friday were designed to be so unattractive and damaging that they would force Congress and the Obama administration to find a better way to address the country's massive deficit. Four days remain but no alternative is in sight, and both sides in the latest partisan battle are angrily blaming each other.
No deal means the government is forced to make drastic cuts in domestic and defense spending, a move that that threatens the fragile economic recovery from the Great Recession.
The Obama administration increased the pressure on Republicans in Congress on Sunday by releasing state-by-state reports on the impact of the looming budget cuts, an effort designed to lawmakers to compromise or face unhappy constituents at home.
President Barack Obama on Monday was addressing the nation's governors at the White House.
The budget cuts were designed to take effect only in case a specially established bipartisan congressional super-committee failed to come up with $1 trillion or more in savings from government programs.
Obama has not been able to find enough support for his alternative approach of reducing deficits through a combination of targeted savings and tax increases. Obama has proposed closing tax loopholes that benefit the wealthiest Americans and corporations.
"Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising _ instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans _ they would rather let these cuts fall squarely on the middle class," Obama said on Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address.
House Republicans have said reduced spending needs to be the focus and have rejected the president's demand to include higher taxes as part of a compromise. They say legislation passed in early January already raises taxes on the wealthiest Americans to generate an estimated $600 billion for the Treasury over a decade.
Few in Washington were optimistic that a realistic compromise could be found by Friday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said travelers could see delayed flights. And furloughed meat inspectors could leave plants idled.
Some governors said the budget impasse was just the latest crisis in Washington that is keeping businesses from hiring and undermining the ability of state leaders to develop their own spending plans.
"It's senseless and it doesn't need to happen," said Maryland's Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, during the annual meeting of the National Governors Association over the weekend. "This really threatens to hurt a lot of families in our state and kind of flat-line our job growth for the next several months."
Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, called the looming defense cuts "unconscionable" and urged Obama to call lawmakers to the White House for a last-minute budget summit.