WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders and the White House are facing a midnight deadline tonight, when a series of automatic budget cuts will take effect. Unless a compromise is reached, a 2.7 percent federal budget cut will hit across the board.
The so called sequester is expected to have a significant impact on the defense department and federal workers, and affect everything from airport lines to movie ticket prices.
“This was one crazy idea that was never supposed to happen,” said Don Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. The sequester was designed to be a worst case scenario to force Congressional leaders to reach a compromise on budget cuts and tax increases.
As congressional leaders left the Capitol today, Washington remained in gridlock figuring out who to blame for the looming sequester, and where to take credit.
For Republicans, Kettl said the sequester is a crucial moment.
“For Republicans who are trying to redefine the party it’s bad news because it really distracts everybody’s attention away from that,” Kettl said.
But it might not be bad for all conservatives, especially Tea Party members who wantless government spending, he said.
“For the Republicans, especially the tea-partiers who for a long time have been talking about trying to shrink the size of the federal deficit, this is wonderful news because it does it, it does it in a significant way, and does it automatically without their fingerprints being directly on the decision,” Kettl said.