It is official, President Barack Obama initiated the budget cuts that will force layoffs and furloughs for workers in most of the largest government agencies. Not only so, the ripples from the sequester will be felt across many industries and businesses, likely resulting in private sector unemployment as well. The question that remains is whether this can be sorted out, and if Republicans or Democrats are to blame for this mess.
Democrats have been quick to lay the blame at the feet of Republicans, led by almost daily finger-pointing by the President himself. He has publicly called out Senator Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner by name. The Democrats argue that the Republicans are unwilling to negotiate in good faith towards a workable budget.
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Republicans on the other hand blame the Democrats and the President for the sequester. Speaker Boehner has labelled the impasse a result of President Obama's lack of "leadership" in the process. In a suprising turn of events, iconic journalist Bob Woodward agreed that Obama had not kept his word on the budget in demanding more revenue as requisite for a deal. Obama had promised not to do so when the sequester was originally proposed.
And Boehner emphasized during the past week that it was the White House that originally proposed the sequester, although media pundits dismissed this notion due to the fact that Congress approved of it wholeheartedly.
The first order of business is to get a deal done before the cuts take effect, if that is still possible. The job losses to follow must be averted. Obama has predicted that the cuts will result in much "pain" for the American people.
However, in weighing the arguments on both sides of the aisle, it is apparent that both Republicans and Democrats carry equal blame. Republicans are adamant that they will not compromise, that only spending cuts and no new taxes will suffice for a budget deal. Democrats, led by Obama, are insisting on some compromise and calling it "reasonable."
It has become a game of brinksmanship, where one side has to cave in before something can get done. The question is, which party will put the health of the nation before its pride?