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Obama Delays Report to Congress on Automatic Cuts to Next Week

The Obama administration will send to Congress next week a report spelling out how billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts will be carried out beginning Jan. 2, missing a deadline set by lawmakers.

White House press secretary Jay Carney today told reporters traveling with President Barack Obama to a campaign event that the report will be sent to the Capitol “late next week,” without being specific. He cited “a lot of complicating factors” in detailing the cuts.

The automatic spending cuts totaling about $1.2 trillion through 2021 were part of a deal between the White House and Congress after talks failed last year on a bipartisan plan to curb the nation’s increasing debt.

Yesterday was the deadline set in legislation signed by Obama on Aug. 7 that required the Office of Management and Budget to report on how it would comply with last year’s budget-control law.

Republicans in Congress yesterday criticized the administration for failing to deliver the report on time.

“Despite repeated inquires, the White House has yet to tell us when they are sending up the report,” John Ashbrook, a spokesman for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said.

The budget office report is supposed to outline what how the cuts would affect government programs, expressed in both dollars and percentages.


It’s also supposed to list which programs are exempt. Lawmakers put mandatory programs such as Social Security off limits, and the administration has said military pay and veterans’ health-care programs should be left alone. Other programs, such as student loans, are subject to special rules.

The cuts would amount to $109 billion next year, coming equally out of defense and nondefense spending. Democrats are insisting that Republicans accept some tax increases in exchange for altering the defense cuts. No proposal to avoid the reductions has gained support.

A Bloomberg Government analysis estimated that sequestration would cut 9.6 percent from non-exempt Pentagon accounts, including for the war in Afghanistan, and 9.1 percent from nondefense discretionary spending.

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said Obama should “follow the law he signed and tell the American people how he plans to implement, or replace, these devastating cuts.”

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