Common Cents: The $85 Billion Question

Common Cents: The $85 Billion Question

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Common Cents: The $85 Billion Question

With the sequester set to go into effect in just two days, Americans are trying to piece together how Washington failed to come up with anything better than their best, worst idea.  Ultimately,  the inability to prioritize and trim back just three percent of the federal government’s annual budget is why we’re still in this situation.  Is cutting three cents on the dollar really as difficult as Washington says it is?  It shouldn’t be.  But with all the mixed messages coming out of Washington, it’s hard to keep track of who can do it … and who can’t.

CAN WASHINGTON FIND A SMART WAY TO CUT $85 BILLION?

CNBC’s Joe Kernan: “… If you were a surgeon, you could find $85 billion in the discretionary side that is duplicative or waste or whatever.  I mean, you’re not saying that we couldn’t find a way to do that, are you?” (Joe Kernan, CNBC’s Squawk Box, 2/26/13)

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer: “I think that’s correct, Joe …” (Steny Hoyer, CNBC’s Squawk Box, 2/26/13)

President Obama: “When you’re cutting $85 billion in seven months, which represents over a ten percent cut to the defense budget in seven months, there’s no smart way to do that.  There’s no smart way to do that.”  (President Obama, Remarks at Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, VA, 2/26/13)

FLASHBACK:  EVEN INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE, IT ISN’T CLEAR