The Daily Rundown | February 25, 2013
>>> congress is back to work today after a week-long break. with $85 billion in sequester cuts taking effect in just four days, the race is on to point the finger at who should shoulder the blame. our monday gaggle, washington bureau chief of " usa today ," susan page , karen finney, and terry jeffrey, editor in chief of cnsnews.com. susan, set the table here. i'm trying to figure out, is the sequester the worst thing that's ever happened in the history of the federal government and all this? if it is as bad as everybody is saying it is, where is the urgency of meetings, where are the plans, where's this? it's been a weird way it's been all rhetoric and no action.
>> because it is not in fact as bad as hitting up against the debt limit and it is not as bad as what will come later in the month when the resolution that finances the federal government runs out and we might have an actual government shutdown . hurt someplaces? yes. one reason this becomes complicated is because it hurts different places to different degrees. some of the cross currents as we saw with the govern terse weekend is not republican versus democrat but say how much defense spending are you relying on in your area.
>> terry, when it comes to republicans, there seemed to be a mixed message. i don't understand what the message is coming. john boehner said these are terrible cuts. and this would be terrible thing, the sequester. you have others in the republican congress going, you know what? a spending cut is a spending cut. it is about time.
>> in obama 's first term we spent 24% of gdp which is more than the government spent at any time since world war ii . since 2008 the last full fiscal year before obama came in, federal spending increased $822.90 per person for every man, woman and child in the united states . these are minor cuts for republicans to be worried about it is just wrong. the fact is we're not cutting spending enough.
>> do you think this mixed message is muddling the position here?
>> i think there is no doubt about it. the message is we're heading towards national brumts. we have to deal with spending and entitlements. this doesn't go nearly far enough.
>> i was talking to a pretty plugged-in democrat and he said he was talking to somebody asking, what's the end game here, to the white house and got a -- there doesn't seem to be a like how does the white house get out of it?
>> but there is a message.
>> you're right, there is a message strategy but what is the actual end game here?
>> i think the end game -- i think the hope is that some point everybody's got to come back to the table. at some point -- the end game is at some point we'll have the debt ceiling problem at the end of the month.
>> debt ceiling would be may. it is okay to be confused.
>> but look. part of the strategy here, on one side it's plame the president. who cares? at a point, most americans are not going to care whose fault it is. they want to see it getting dealt with. do i think that part of the end game for the white house is you see the president, you hear the president, at least saying we need to come together, how about at least a short-term plan? you don't hear anything like that, nor do you hear from the republicans anything about protecting the middle class , which they now say is their big concern.
>> terry, this goes with the message. so on one hand i understand boehner politically, he can't agree to another compromise that includes a tax increase. is that fair?
>> that's right.
>> he would be risking himself politically. at the other end of this, the national party -- its brand, is a mess because of this.
>> well, it is. i think it would be a disaster politically for the republicans if they caved on this. look where this started. it started in august 2011 when boehner made a deal with the president. the deal was we'll let you borrow $2.4 trillion more if you let us have some spending cuts. obama says i will gladly increase the debt now for some spending cuts tomorrow. as of this day, wimpy hasn't cut spending.
>> susan, downed what the end game is?
>> the white house had had a good message. i don't understand why they've gotten to this -- i'm trying to think of a non-vulgar way to say this -- but this dispute about whose idea was it. as you say, who cares. but now by denying that it was their idea --
>> the president tried to pin the blame on congress during the campaign, it made people in congress upset.
>> the reality is, both sides are accountable. budget control act was signed, people voted for it. let abhonest, people voted for it thinking it is like buying a bikini in the winter thinking you'll be able to fit into it in the summer. they didn't think they'd have to deal with it.
>> truthfulness matters. we need to have a president who tells us the truth. more importantly, in that column yesterday in the " washington post ," bob woodward said --
>> it would help for republicans to tell the truth as well.
>> it does seem as if i don't think woodward seems to have the understanding of what the tax issue was.
>> that's the second issue.
>> we're going to take a break. i want to talk a little bit about republican governors and all of them