Elizabeth Warren: Sequester cuts are ‘just plain dumb’


Senator Elizabeth Warren called the automatic federal spending cuts scheduled to take effect Friday “just plain dumb” and urged Republicans to sign off on what she described a “balanced proposal” from the White House to avoid the current standoff between congressional leaders and President Obama.

Backing President Obama’s call on Republicans to accept a new debt reduction plan that includes both budget cuts and higher tax revenues through closing loopholes and deductions, the Massachusetts Senator slammed the sequester plan that would impact all 50 states. The president’s offer proposes to cut spending by 50% by closing corporate loopholes, and 50% by making targeted cuts, including in agricultural subsidies and military spending.

“It’s a little more balanced than I would have put on the table if I’d been in that position,” Warren said during a breakfast at The New England Council. “We seem to have a government that works only by holdout. I don’t know anything more to do but get up and talk to the American people.”

Warren continued, “We seem to have a government that works only by holdout. I don’t know anything more to do but get up and talk to the American people.”

A result of the continued standoff between Democrats and Republicans over how to reduced the federal deficit, the sequester would slash $85 billion from the 2013 federal budget and curtail numerous government services. These cuts were agreed on by the president and by Congress in 2011 due to the failure of “grand bargain” discussions, as the potential default on the nation’s obligations loomed. Speaker Boehner and House Republicans demanded the White House and Democrats agree to a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar increase in the debt ceiling, so both sides agreed to the sequester, in addition to other cuts, to prolong reaching a deal and to bypass a government shutdown.

However, the partisan divide on sequestration still has not met that demand and there has been no indication to reach a compromise before Friday.

“The sequester negotiations are mostly with the leadership,” Warren told reporters on Monday before addressing the New England Council. “We all talk, but it’s not happening with every Republican reaching out to every Democrat. Right now, the White House, the leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives are in negotiations.”

Warren called the $85 billion automatic cuts a “blunt instrument.”She added, “It means cuts in the defense industry, not smart cuts, cuts we ought to be making, getting rid of fat. It just means blunt, across-the-board cuts. It’s just an irresponsible way.”