The U.S. is now just a day away from the sequester -- the $85 billion in across-the-board federal spending cuts that came out of the debt ceiling debacle of 2011. While it’s tough to find an economist that thinks the cuts are smart policy, the sequester is unlikely to be averted before tonight's midnight deadline.
U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) joins Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to discuss the sequester and its likely impact on the economy.
On whether the sequester can still be avoided:
It's a done deal for a short period of time, possibly a long period of time, but there is no way there is going to be a bill to the president for signature before March 1, so then you do go into sequester. I don't think there is going to be any immediate impact, but people will seriously negotiate [at that time].
On whether the sequester will be undone retroactively:
It's pretty difficult for me to predict. But strategy and the way congress operates and the fact that most people don't believe these automatic, across-the-board reductions are the best way to do business. Common sense dictates that you go to the table and you work out something. But if it doesn't get worked out, then this is going to be the policy through September 30.
On Washington's continual fiscal deadline crises:
To be perfectly candid, I think legislative bodies -- not just the Congress -- tend to function under deadlines. But you also have to remember that Congress is not the only player here. The president of the United States suggested this during the summer of 2011 because he didn't want to have any votes on increasing the debt limit prior to the election. Now it looks like the president is showing the leadership that he should have shown over the last 18 months.
On whether Washington will face a government shutdown next month:
Absolutely not. We learned a lesson in 1995 that you don't save any money by shutting down the government. Continuing resolutions will be passed to fund the government at the same level [as the last six months]. It's pretty common sense, if government can function for six months under X-number of dollars, they can fill out the year under those same X-number of dollars.