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Spending cut squabbling turns to blame game

Posted at 11:25 AM, Feb 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-20 11:25:13-05

By CNN Political Unit

(CNN) -- As time winds down for lawmakers and the White House to forge a plan averting the latest fiscal catastrophe, each side looked past a fix Wednesday and instead sought to pin the blame for the painful forced spending cuts on the other party.

Congress, which isn't even in session this week, doesn't appear close to taking action on the $85 billion in forced cuts, which take effect March 1. Lawmakers and aides told CNN Tuesday not to expect any measure staving off the budget slashing to pass in the near future.

Without a solution in sight, leaders jumped ahead to the bickering over whom to blame if the cuts take effect. Writing on the Wall Street Journal's opinion page, House Speaker John Boehner repeated his line that the cuts were President Barack Obama's idea, writing the across-the-board measures are "a product of the president's own failed leadership."

The cuts, which include massive slashes to military spending, have cast a shadow over Congress and the White House since 2011. They were originally meant to be so drastic that both sides would have to reach a deal before they were implemented.

The White House initially proposed the idea of forced spending cuts, but they were approved by Congress as part of a deal to allow continued borrowing by the Treasury to pay the nation's bills.

"The president's sequester is the wrong way to reduce the deficit, but it is here to stay until Washington Democrats get serious about cutting spending," Boehner wrote in the Wall Street Journal. "The government simply cannot keep delaying the inevitable and spending money it doesn't have."

White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer called Boehner's allegations a distraction technique in a post on the White House's blog, writing "the Leader of the Republican party took to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal to engage in an amazing act of revisionist history."

"Instead of communicating with the American people - who support a balanced approach to reduce the deficit - about finding a compromise, the Republican Leadership once again launched a series of false attacks instead of putting forward ways to resolve this issue in a bipartisan way," Pfeiffer wrote.

Later, Pfeiffer alleged on Twitter that the GOP actually wants the massive cuts to go into effect, and said a compromise deal would be impossible unless Republicans budge on their opposition to closing tax loopholes.

"GOP says NO compromise on tax loopholes,until that changes no solution is possible.They say they WANT the seq to go into effect," he wrote, adding later: "D's want to solve the prob, GOP doesn't. They don't view these cuts as leverage even if people lose their jobs."