The most important development in President Obama’s press conference today is that he didn’t issue a veto threat against a continuing resolution that would integrate the size of the sequester cuts into new baseline spending levels. While Obama’s answer to the question was very cagey, he did not definitively reject the idea.
This gives Republicans a rather clear possible path to dealing with the sequester. Before the end of the month Congress is going to need to adopt a new continuing resolution to avoid the government shutdown. The Republicans can put forward a new omnibus spending bill which contains overall reductions roughly equal in size to the sequester, but with more flexibility in how they are implemented.
Republicans can also partly offset some of the cuts with more popular cuts, like reducing farm subsidies. As part of a compromise with Senate Democrats they could even agree to an overall reduction that is less than $85 billion.
The net result would be that the sequester would technically be eliminated and replaced with a better designed reduction in discretionary spending. The sequester would then end up just being a lowering of the spending cap Democrats previously agreed to.
This would not deal with the fact that austerity during a weak economy is a bad idea, but it addresses the stupidity of having cuts be completely across the board with almost no flexibility.
Photo by Trey Ratcliff under Creative Commons license