Congress looks to formulate budget plans

In the event that the White House and Congress do not formulate a deficit reduction plan by the March 1 deadline, forced budget cuts, or sequestration, will take place, impacting many government programs. 

Should the sequestration go into effect, $85 billion will be cut from the $3.5 trillion budget.

According to The New York Times, President Barack Obama is supporting a “balanced plan,” which will include “cuts in selected domestic programs, savings in certain benefit programs and additional tax revenue collected from some corporations and high-income people.”  

Daniel Werfel, federal controller of the president’s Office of Management and Budget, held a briefing on Sunday during the winter meeting of the National Governor's Association to outline state-by-state cuts that would occur. 

Together with Jason Furman, the principal deputy director of the National Economic Council, he said the numbers were accurate representations of the damage the cuts would cause for individual states. 

Throughout the meeting, many state officials expressed their opinions on the budget cuts. 

  “We don’t do across-the-board cuts in state government, and it’s a stupid idea in the federal government,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, D-Conn. said to the Times. 

Gov. Dave Heineman, R-Neb., was also critical of the White House’s approach. 

“The White House is engaged in scare tactics,” he said in a Times interview. “Every governor in this country knows how to cut their budget by 2 or 3 percent, and the White House ought to learn how to do it.”

“These are job-killing cuts, and we have to find a way to avoid them,” Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md. said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We cannot cut our way to prosperity. We need a balanced approach to continue our jobs recovery.”

According to the Times, Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to Obama, said the Republicans were "willful" and "obstinate.”

“Republicans have decided they want the sequester to go into effect,” Pfeiffer said in a conference call with journalists. “They have decided that they are not open to compromise, that these cuts should happen, that these cuts are better for the country, better for 100,000 Americans to lose their jobs. It’s better for people to wait in longer lines at airports; it’s better for kids to get kicked out of Head Start than to close a few loopholes that benefit the wealthy. That’s the choice they’ve made.” 

Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, said that the state-by-state report of financial impact was a “public relations stunt.” 

According to CNN, the cuts will be felt most by national parks, airport security and air traffic, education, public health, crime and justice and unemployment benefits. The National Park Service would lose $110 million, while approximately 70,000 kids may be pushed from Head Start. There would also be an average 10 percent decrease to unemployment benefits.

According to the Times, cuts cannot be made to Medicaid or foods stamps. Cuts to Medicare cannot exceed 2 percent and Social Security benefits will remain intact; however, Social Security disability claims are likely to backlog. 

Further, according to the Times, New York will lose approximately $42 million from primary and secondary education and $13 million in environmental financing, as well as cuts to programs for unemployment assistance, programs that provide meals to the elderly and programs providing vaccinations.