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House Speaker John Boehner makes a brief statement to the media at the Capitol in Washington December 19, 2012. Frustrated by their inability to wring more
The fact that federal spending cuts were the primary factor driving today's grim economic growth report makes it clear that moving forward with the sequester's draconian spending cuts would be a complete disaster. This is not something that Republicans want to get blamed for, but unfortunately for House Speaker John Boehner, the only way he got House Republicans to agree to raise the debt limit was by promising to enforce the spending sequester. So now he's in a bit of a trap: He has to defend the sequester at the same time that he has to deny responsibility for it.

Here's how his office tried to accomplish that balancing act today:

"These arbitrary, automatic cuts were a creation and demand of the White House in 2011," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker of the House John Boehner in response to Carney's comments. "Twice the House has passed legislation to replace them with common sense cuts and reforms. If there was any uncertainty late last year about the sequester, it was because the Democratic-controlled Senate, per usual, never lifted a finger to pass a plan to replace it."
Actually, the truth is that the Senate has offered plenty of ways to achieve the same level of deficit reduction as the sequester—it's just that doing so would raise taxes, and Republicans refuse to do that. So it's not that the Senate hasn't lifted a finger, it's that House Republicans don't like the Senate's ideas.

Beyond that, however, there's no eternal rule that says the House couldn't just suspend the sequester indefinitely. The fact that they are insisting on equivalent cuts means that one way or another they are the ones insisting on the sequester.

Boehner's spokesman says the White House is the reason the sequester was created in the first place, back in 2011. But the truth is that Republicans were the ones pushing for the massive spending cuts—the president was trying to figure out how to keep the government running the face of GOP obstruction, and the sequester is what we ended up with.

That being said, what difference does it make who came up with the idea in 2011? It's 2013: What matters is what happens now. The GOP has within its power the ability to put aside the sequester—if it so chooses. If it doesn't, the most logical explanation is that John Boehner was telling the truth when he said this in August of 2011 after passing the debt ceiling deal that created the sequester in the first place:

When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy.
Republicans created our fiscal nightmare. They can still fix it, or at least get out of the way, but the clock is ticking.

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Originally posted to The Jed Report on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:39 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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