Sequestration: Obama's 4 choices before midnight

Sequestration day has finally arrived. Except that it hasn't quite hit yet. Here are four possibilities for today.

By The Fiscal Times Mar 1, 2013 12:08PM
The Fiscal Times logo By David Francis

Today's the day: the dreaded sequester is finally upon us.

Except that it isn't.

The $85 billion across the board spending cuts known as the sequester have not yet taken effect. In fact, there's still time for the White House and Congress to come up with a compromise to prevent them. President Barack Obama has until 11:59 p.m. to sign the order implementing sequestration.

While compromise doesn't seem likely given the toxic political environment, why not pretend the glass is half full? Of course, odds are that the sides remain at opposite poles. We've broken down the four potential courses of action:

1. Obama signs the sequestration order by the end of the day. If the president signs the order, sequestration goes into effect. But it's not clear what the impact would be, and it wouldn't be immediate. Federal workers cannot be placed immediately on furlough, and implementing the spending cuts would take some time. On Monday, Washington in sequester will look very much like Washington today.

Dollar bills floating over US Capitol Corbis2. Congress passes a bill suspending sequestration and Obama signs it. It's still possible for Congress to pass a bill next week delaying the cuts (the Senate considered two approaches yesterday). It would then go to the White House for Obama's signature. If this happens, sequestration would be put off for an unspecified amount of time, or eliminated altogether.

3. Obama simply ignores the bill requiring sequestration. Technically it's against the law. But he's the president: who's going to force him to sign?

4. Congress and Obama compromise. This is probably the least-likely option, but it's still possible. The president is meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders from the House and Senate this morning. Maybe there are secret back-channel negotiations taking place. Maybe they'll all just shake hands and agree to forget this whole sequestration thing. Then again, maybe not.

Other possible courses of action do exist, but these four are the most likely. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle don't seem in the mood to compromise. But in politics, you never know.

David Francis is a National Correspondent at The Fiscal Times. Subscribe to The Fiscal Times' FREE newsletter.

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185Comments
Mar 1, 2013 2:42PM
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God forbid they look for the 85 billion in cuts in areas of waste fraud and abuse within the bloated government. How about congress freezes their pay, and gets no time off until they can figure out a plan.

No.....instead, they'll make the taxpayers pay for it, by screwing us for their short comings. 
Mar 1, 2013 1:23PM
Mar 1, 2013 1:36PM
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LOL.... Obama's "I am not a dictator"...  Sounded so much like Nixon's "I am not a crook" comment....   Hands in the air just like tricky Dick....

What a lazy, arrogant, corrupt Imbecile...
Mar 1, 2013 12:25PM
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Quit trying to make this into a big deal when it isn't. If you are a "Financial Expert" then you have to know 81 Billion is a drop in the bucket and will hardly be noticed. You are being an irresponsible

 " Journalist" by trying to scare people !

Mar 1, 2013 12:37PM
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Hopefully Obama has the balls to sign the sequestration order into law so we can start to cut the spending on waste by the US government. I mean Kerry tries to scare us yesterday saying $400 million will be cut from US State Department's spending on AIDS. That's a frink'n joke. We're going around the world blowing innocent people up with billion of dollars wasted on drones and missiles and also spending $400 million on AIDS. Let the spending cuts begin and let's take people off of US Kool-Aid.
Mar 1, 2013 2:00PM
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I can't believe this.... So let me make sure I have it right.

 

1. The spending cuts are dumb and arbitrary.

2. Obama has or could be granted the ability to have same amount cut but to make more sense.

3. Obama won't do this because he can't have more tax revenue as part of the deal.

 

If this is correct it really sucks. 

Mar 1, 2013 3:13PM
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Here's an idea: Let's ground Air Force One until the end of the Fiscal Year instead of taxiing POTUS on a 100 City "Information Tour". That would save a couple of million. Then lets ground those private jets the Cabinet Members have been using and make them fly Coach on a Commercial Airline to save some more. Better Yet:

 

Why don't YOU compromise, Mr. President? You got your tax hike on Middle and Upper Income folks in January when you let the payroll tax expire and upped the rate on the top earners, but renigged on ANY spending cuts that you promised.

Mar 1, 2013 2:02PM
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Enough with the boogeyman stories.  Let the cuts begin.  If the DOD needs another battleship, let them hold a bake sale. 

 

 I don't think the Federal government should be a growth industry.

Mar 1, 2013 2:02PM
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Do any of you have an ideal of how much fuel it takes to fly a C-5  to Afghanistan and  back? How does a 100,000 gallons of fuel sound. That doesn't count the cost of the flight crew and the guys who load the plane. We can't afford to police the whole world anymore. This is one flight, not counting the repairs and cost of the plane.
Mar 1, 2013 2:21PM
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We need to reduce our deficit and this will do it.
If sequestration is the only way to agree on this, so be it.

Mar 1, 2013 2:06PM
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Maybe we get lucky, he doesn't sign, and then we can impeach him
Mar 1, 2013 2:47PM
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If they would just cut out goverment waste they could save that much.
Mar 1, 2013 3:13PM
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Choice #5: Obama can Man Up and start allowing real cuts.
Mar 1, 2013 3:33PM
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Wait...let's see...if MY family budget isn't balanced, then I have to prioritize my spending, cut out waste, and ensure I don't cut off my hand to spite my face....Oops, I forgot, Obama hasn't passed a budget the entire time he's ben POTUS, even when he had BOTH Houses of Congress on his side...what does THAT tell you?
Mar 1, 2013 2:31PM
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My bet is #3.  This administration (like just every other) is more than willing to skirt the law anytime they want to, as long as it serves their purpose.  We've been operating without an actual budget for 3 years now, and option #3 is right along those same lines.
Mar 1, 2013 3:09PM
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As small as they are, at least up to this time there might actually be a cut. Let's see how tramatic are we talking?

They say something like 85,000,000,000.00  dollars. Out of a 3,800,000,000,000.00 dollar budget. we will do some math, that would be fractionally 85 over 3800. Or about 1 over 44.5 as a fraction.

 The geniuses that run our Gooberment can not find 1/44.5  of a 3.8 TRILLION dollar budget as waste?

Mar 1, 2013 2:30PM
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Sequester? Put the hammer down....on the cuts.
Mar 1, 2013 3:14PM
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I'll gladly give up my 20% pay cut if EVERYONE on the Federal Payroll does the same...Oh wait, that wouldn't be fair would it?
Mar 1, 2013 12:51PM
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Yes this is the PROBLEM....You couldn't have said it better..

The MEDIA for sensationalism...Is just "flat friggin" trying to scare the AMERICAN PUBLIC..

 

Taking out of "context and snippets"....That peak people's interest...

 

THAT IS THEIR JOB...IT HELP'S SELL THEIR PRODUCT>>>

And they are doing it well...IMO

"You guys are on the button.."

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Obama option #1, let any other president show fiscal responsibility, otherwise it is racism!
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