News Column

White House Distances Itself from 'Sequester'; Points to Congress

Oct. 24, 2012

The Obama administration was confident that U.S. lawmakers will adopt deficit reduction in a balanced manner and avoid a tax increase for 98 percent of the American people starting next year, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday.

The president was confident that the Congress will take the appropriate action to achieve a balanced deficit reduction plan in order to avoid onerous cuts in both defense and non-defense spending that were written into the law by the Congress, White House spokesman Jay Carney Tuesday told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Ohio.

Analysts were watching closely whether the U.S. Congress would be able to lessen the impact of 560 billion U.S. dollars in tax increases and spending cuts, or sequester, set to take effect starting next year, a scenario dubbed as the "fiscal cliff".

"The sequester, which was designed and passed by the Congress, was never meant to become policy. It was never meant to be implemented. It's designed a trigger, a forcing mechanism to compel the Congress to make the difficult decisions required to reach a balanced deficit reduction package," Carney added.

Carney reiterated the stance of the Obama administration on budget deficit cuts, as both revenue increases and outlays reduction should be included in a balanced plan.

According to the Budget Control Act of last year, a bipartisan super-committee must find 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars in budget cuts, or a sequester of the same amount will come into effect. The sequester mechanism cuts evenly to national security and social programs. Since the super-committee failed to ink a deal last year, the automatic cuts were to take effect on Jan. 1 next year if the Congress cannot act to stop it this year.

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office has warned that the so- called "fiscal cliff" would slice up to 4 percentage points off U. S. economic growth next year, causing the economy to contract in the first half, if all the deficit-cutting measures occur at once.

Source: (c) 2012 Xinhua News Agency - CEIS. Provided by ProQuest LLC.

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