Obama, Boehner Look Ahead to Next Budget Deadline

BY Terence Burlij and Katelyn Polantz  March 4, 2013 at 9:00 AM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner departs from the White House following a meeting with President Barack Obama and congressional leaders on Friday.The House is expected to vote Thursday on legislation to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Morning Line

The next budget deadline is now a little more than three weeks away, but President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans appear no closer to resolving their differences over fiscal policy that produced a stalemate over $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that started to kick in last week.

The first move in that battle will come Thursday when the House is expected to vote on a spending measure to keep the government running past March 27, the day current funding is set to expire. The stopgap plan put forward by Republicans would fund operations through the end of the fiscal year in September, but would do so at the lower spending levels of the sequester. The GOP proposal also would give the Pentagon greater flexibility when it comes to implementing reductions to the defense budget.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” taped Friday, following the visit by congressional leaders to the White House, that he had discussed with the president the need to avert a government shutdown. “The president this morning agreed that we should not have any talk of a government shutdown. So I’m hopeful that the House and Senate will be able to work through this,” Boehner said.

The speaker said he favored closing tax loopholes to streamline the tax code and lower rates for Americans. But he rejected the president’s approach of using additional revenues to help reduce the deficit.

“The president got $650 billion of higher taxes on the American people on January the first,” Boehner said. “How much more does he want? When is the president going to address the spending side of this?”

When asked Friday if he would support a measure to keep the government funded at sequester levels, the president refused to give a firm answer, but hinted strongly that he would do so.

“I never want to make myself 100 percent clear with you guys,” the president told reporters at the White House. “But I think it’s fair to say that I made a deal for a certain budget, certain numbers. There’s no reason why that deal needs to be reopened.”

The president suggested that allowing a government shutdown on top of the automatic spending cuts that just took effect would likely compound the country’s economic problems.

“By law, until Congress takes the sequester away, we’d have to abide by those additional cuts. But there’s no reason why we should have another crisis by shutting the government down in addition to these arbitrary spending cuts,” Mr. Obama said.

The president added that he hoped Republicans would be willing to compromise on revenues going forward as the two sides seek a broader deal to reduce the deficit.

“Speaker Boehner, just a couple months ago, identified these tax loopholes and tax breaks and said we should close them and raise revenue. So it’s not as if it’s not possible to do,” Mr. Obama said. “It may be that because of the politics within the Republican Party, they can’t do it right now. I understand that. My hope is, is that they can do it later.”

The split over taxes was also part of Kwame Holman’s blog post on Friday looking at the failure to reach an agreement on averting the sequester.

The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe, Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio and Karen Kasler of Ohio Public Television joined PBS NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown on Friday to detail how the deal (or lack thereof) would impact the federal government as well as localities and states.

Watch the segment here or below:


Reporter-Producer Cassie M. Chew talked with a handful of other public media reporters about what they are seeing back home. In Missouri, the research community stands to see big cuts, notes Jim Kirchherr of KETC in St. Louis. And WHRO’s Cathy Lewis detailed how military-rich Hampton Roads will be impacted in a Q-and-A here.

LINE ITEMS

  • President Obama will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell as director of the Office of Management and Budget on Monday. She’s currently head of the Wal-Mart Foundation, and previously worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Burwell also served as the deputy budget director and deputy White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration.

  • To replace Lisa Jackson at the EPA, Mr. Obama has chosen Gina McCarthy, the agency’s assistant administrator for air and radiation. He’ll nominate MIT physicist Ernest Moniz as energy secretary.

  • And just as McCarthy’s nomination surfaces, Coral Davenport of the National Journal details how deep cuts to the EPA budget handicap the agency.

  • A 229-page report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, tracks allegations against Secret Service personnel over the past eight years, including assault, frequenting prostitutes and wiretapping. The Secret Service has called the list “an intake log,” whose allegations are not verified.

  • The Homeland Security Department released 2,000 illegal immigrants ahead of sequestration, with plans to release 3,000 more who are facing deportation in March. That’s many more than the “few hundred” the Obama administration originally admitted to releasing.

  • Obama pardoned 17 people Friday. Among them was a man convicted on firearms charges.

  • The Obama administration is taking the “maximum legal position,” Talking Points Memo says, in support of same-sex marriage in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court. The court will hear two cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 in late March.

  • If you haven’t been following the Virginia transportation bill sagas or the recent politics of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, read this story from the Washington Post. It casts the governor as in the midst of an “identity crisis,” not unlike his party.

  • CBN talks to Mr. Obama’s outgoing faith director Joshua Dubois about how the president views his religion’s effect on his service.

  • Syria thinkers over at Syria Deeply respond to a reader’s question about what should be next for the country, pointing to the need for the current regime to withdraw, the opposition to make concessions and the importance of a deal between the U.S. and Russia to break intransigence on the U.N. Security Council.

  • Duke Energy won’t see a return on the $10 million line of credit it loaned to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention last year. The company’s shareholders will take a $6 million hit, the Charlotte Observer reports.

  • New York Magazine looks into former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s political reincarnation. “The Sanfords have barely been on speaking terms; when they do talk, it’s usually about the boys. But Mark went to meet with Jenny at her house this past December to discuss the congressional race,” Jason Zengerle writes.

  • Connecticut state Rep. Ernest Hewett had an inappropriate response to a 17-year-old girl testifying about her experience overcoming shyness and a fear of snakes.

  • Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on Fox News that Republicans shouldn’t blame New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for his loss.

  • Jeffrey Toobin profiles Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the New Yorker this week.

  • The president saddened nerds everywhere by mixing his Star Wars and Star Trek references when saying he can’t do a “Jedi mind meld.” But the White House owned up to it and even pushed the meme on its own.

  • Yeah, but was the fasten seatbelt sign on?

  • Today’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA: 85 percent of all bank failures between 2008 and 2011 were small banks with assets below $1 billion.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks agree that the Republicans are mostly to blame for the sequester. Watch their segment here or below:



  • Judy Woodruff spoke with Detroit Public Television’s Christy McDonald about the city’s budget emergency. “I can’t tell you that this city, which is largely African-American, is 100 percent joyful that a white Republican governor is going to be coming in and exerting some control over the city finances,” McDonald said. “But there is a growing majority of people that says, look, bottom line is, we want to make sure that our trash gets picked up. We want to make sure that the abandoned building that’s on our block or right next door to our house gets knocked down. We want to make sure that, when we call police, police come.” The full segment is here or below:


  • The NewsHour discusses “food insecurity” with a documentary filmmaker who’s examining the issue in the U.S. The film is “A Place at the Table,” and you can read the conversation and view excerpts of the film here.

  • Last week’s installment of “Lunch in the Lab” looked at the saltiness of sea water as seen from space.

TOP TWEETS

Christina Bellantoni and Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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