Jay Carney: ‘No Wiggle Room’ In President Obama’s Threat To Veto Changes To Triggered Cuts


With last week’s unsurprising failure of the deficit “Supercommittee” came a threat by President Obama to “veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending” triggered by the committee’s failure. at today’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney quashed speculation by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) that the President had left some “wiggle room” to rejigger those triggered cuts away from defense.

In a statement to reporters in the briefing room last week, the President made clear his answer to members of Congress who wanted to defang the triggered cuts. “My message to them is simple:  No'” President Obama said. “I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending.  There will be no easy off ramps on this one.”

Sen. Toomey argued, on ABC’s This Week, that there was enough ambiguity in the President’s statement to allow Congress to shift some of the cuts away from defense. “I think there’s a broad consensus that too much of the cuts are weighted on our defense’s capabilities and it would really cut in deeply in our ability to defend this nation. So, I think it’s important that we change the configuration. I would be surprised if the President would simply veto every effort to make any changes,” Sen. Toomey said on Sunday.

According to Carney, though, the President isn’t letting Congress off that easily. From HuffPo’s Sam Stein:

“Congress voted to impose this sequester to hold its own feet to the fire, to get it to act,” said Carney. “To suggest that they should undo what they did just a few months ago, to declare to the world as they did when they held this vote on the Budget Control Act -– ‘We are going to hold ourselves responsible’ — and then a few months later say ‘never mind,’ that’s not acceptable.”

…”Changing it is undoing it,” he said. “The whole purpose of the design of the sequester was to make it so onerous for everybody that it would never come to pass. To change it so that it is not so onerous only relieves pressure on Congress. And obviously Congress needs an immense amount of pressure to get positive things done.”

“The president made clear that the sequester should remain in place,” he added. “Congress passed a law holding itself responsible and accountable and they should do the right thing to get it do. So there is no wiggle room.”

Whether the President sticks to his veto threat or not, the prospect of deep defense cuts in an election year is obviously not as frightening to Republicans as delivering a compromise that violates their ideological aversion to raising revenues through taxes. Luckily for them, there’s some built-in wiggle room, even if the President does exercise his veto. A two-thirds majority is required in both Houses of Congress to override a veto. Does anyone want to bet against the Republicans finding enough Democrats willing to wiggle it, just a little bit, in the face of these defense cuts?

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