Flight delays set furlough blame game into motion; Reid cites ‘dire effects’; GOP says it’s politics

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White House Spokesman Jay Carney countered by blaming Republicans for refusing to embrace President Obama’s plan to “reduce our deficit in a balanced way.”

“These delays are a result of the sequester that Republicans insisted take place,” Mr. Carney said, before adding that Congress should move to stop the cuts. “The best way for Congress to fix this problem is to replace sequestration with a smarter approach to deficit reduction.”

Back on Capitol Hill, Mr. Reid warned that the backed-up flights are just a taste of the pain to come, and that his proposal will give them five months to hash out a better solution.

“Let’s put a stop to the furloughs and delays,” Mr. Reid said. “Let’s put a stop to the job losses. Let’s put a stop to the devastating cuts to programs that keep our poor children from getting an equal shot in life — our seniors citizens, our homeless veterans and the most vulnerable among us from falling through the cracks.”

Mr. Reid’s plan would set an absolute cap on how much money could be spent on Iraq and Afghanistan over the next 10 years. All sides expect the spending to drop anyway, but under budget rules the Congressional Budget Office assumes that spending in future years will be the same as now. Capping spending means CBO would recalculate its figures and show savings, which Mr. Reid would pump back into the budget to cancel the sequesters.

Republicans countered that the White House could blunt the worst effects if it wanted. The GOP said the FAA already has flexibility to reallocate money and could have cut its budget without furloughing controllers.

In February, Republicans tried to give Mr. Obama complete flexibility to rearrange the sequesters, picking and choosing what should be cut. But the White House said it didn’t want that power, and Senate Democrats blocked that plan.

On Tuesday, Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, slammed Mr. Reid’s latest push to use war money, saying that the U.S. is already running a deficit so canceling the sequesters means going deeper into debt.

“Our problem is that we are continuing to spend money that we don’t have,” Mr. Coburn said. “We’ve created a situation where we are going to discomfort and inconvenience hundreds of thousands of American people on a political point because we can’t cut any spending in Washington.”

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