As the sequester bore down on Washington, the dire warnings from the Obama administration gave the impression that wild horses couldn't drag another dime out of the treasury for a whole host of vital government services. Aircraft carrier refueling, the Head Start program, and White House tours were among the high profile victims.
President Obama joked about the budget cuts known as the sequester, suggesting that seats had been take from his event because of the cuts:
"Those of you who have chairs, i was not sure everybody had chairs there. Please feel free to sit down there. I'm sorry. everybody was standing. I thought -- one of the effects of the sequester, you had to get rid of chairs. That's good. I'm glad we got some chairs," joked Obama.
Forget the sequester. If you're Chuck Schumer, there are ways around it. Consider the recent example of a U.S. Marine Corps band cancelling its scheduled performance at a St. Patrick's Day parade due to the "sequester"--and Chuck Schumer's successful "push" for the band to come anyway.
Barack Obama is fond of saying that “the majority of Americans” agree with him on his “balanced approach” to deficit reduction—which these days seems to mean increasing tax revenues through rate hikes and big defense spending cuts with relatively insignificant cuts elsewhere. At the beginning of his second term, the president appeared to be moving forward with an agenda that assumed the previous election settled the question of which party Americans liked more on taxes and spending.
President Obama says he's not the one who canceled the White House tours. He made the comments in an interview with ABC News.
"[O]ne more question about the spending cuts," said the interviewer from ABC News. "You’ve been takin’ a lotta heat for this cancellation of the White House tours. They get– the Secret Service says it’s costs about $74,000 a week. Was canceling them really necessary?"
President Obama’s outreach to congressional Republicans isn’t a minor tactical shift. It’s a course correction. Five days after denouncing Republicans as tools of “the well-off and well-connected,” he had dinner at the swanky Jefferson Hotel in Washington with a dozen GOP senators. Not only had Obama invited them, but he paid the bill. The next day, he hosted Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, for lunch at the White House.