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Learn about policy issues important to medical schools and teaching hospitals, with Executive Vice President Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D.

Washington Highlights

Blame Game Continues as Sequestration Looms

February 22, 2013—With less than a week to go before $85 billion in automatic across-the-board cuts go into effect, President Obama and congressional Republicans continue to point fingers at one another.  The cuts, known as sequestration, are set to begin March 1.

In a White House speech Feb. 19, the president warned, “Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research.  It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day.  It doesn’t make those distinctions.”

The president said congressional Republicans face a simple choice, “Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education and health care and national security and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations?”

The president again called on Congress to agree on a balanced approach to prevent sequestration, saying, “I believe such a balanced approach that combines tax reform with some additional spending reforms, done in a smart, thoughtful way is the best way to finish the job of deficit reduction and avoid these cuts once and for all that could hurt our economy, slow our recovery, put people out of work.”

The president noted that the House and the Senate “are working on budgets that I hope reflect this approach. But if they can’t get such a budget agreement done by next Friday — the day these harmful cuts begin to take effect — then at minimum, Congress should pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would prevent these harmful cuts — not to kick the can down the road, but to give them time to work together on a plan that finishes the job of deficit reduction in a sensible way.”

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal the following day, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Republicans agree that sequestration is “bad policy,” and challenged the president to identify spending cuts to replace it. 

“The president's sequester is the wrong way to reduce the deficit, but it is here to stay until Washington Democrats get serious about cutting spending,” the speaker wrote, continuing, “The government simply cannot keep delaying the inevitable and spending money it doesn't have.”

“Washington must get serious about its spending problem,” the speaker asserted. “If it can't reform America's safety net and retirement-security programs, they will no longer be there for those who rely on them.”

Contact:

Dave Moore
Senior Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-828-0559
Email: dbmoore@aamc.org

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806
Email: jkleinman@aamc.org