Rubin: Sequester Is ‘Terrible, Terrible’ Legislation

Thursday, 07 Feb 2013 02:18 PM

By Glenn Kalinoski

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Robert Rubin described the $1.2 trillion in automatic, proposed spending cuts known as sequestration as a “terrible, terrible piece of legislation.”

“It arbitrarily cuts defense and non-defense without trying to thoughtfully do so,” the former U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton told CNBC. “Instead of being phased in so we’d have more room for recovery, it hits abruptly.”

The co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations couldn’t give a definitive answer when he was asked if the sequester can be avoided.

Editor's Note: I Wish I Were Wrong — Economist Laments Being Right. See Interview.

“I think it’s a very complicated situation,” he said. “I thought there was some reasonable chance it might happen, which was to have a grand bargain that could have addressed what is really an unsustainable and deeply dangerous long-term fiscal situation. I think if we had done that, not only would it be useful for the long run, but I think it could have generated confidence in the shorter run and helped promote jobs now.”

The sequester is scheduled to become effective in March as Congress and President Barack Obama struggle to deal with federal spending that exceeds revenue.

“The sequester is an authorization measure,” Rubin said. “It authorizes the reduction of spending, but it doesn’t actually implement it.”

Rubin also drew a comparison between the environment in Washington today as being “very different” from the time when he served at the Treasury.

“Today, there’s virtually no bipartisan activity unless it’s in response to a crisis or very special circumstances,” he noted.

“With all the headwinds we have, [the economy] is going to remain in the slow recovery.”

Conservative activist Grover Norquist tells Newsmax TV's Steve Malzberg that conservative legislators should allow the cuts to proceed barring an 11th-hour shift in President Barack Obama’s negotiating tactics.

“The president has put exactly nothing on the table with the exception of sequestration, which is the law of the land,” said Norquist, appearing Wednesday on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV in New York.

“The sequester is going to take effect because Obama has no interest in managing spending restraint more artfully than the sequester and his idea of replacing or delaying the sequester is a complete nonstarter,” said Norquist.

Obama urged Congress on Tuesday to postpone the across-the-board spending cuts to avoid what he described as “real and lasting impacts” on U.S. economic growth.

He urged lawmakers to instead act on a smaller package of spending cuts and changes to the tax code that would increase revenue, such as limiting tax breaks.

Editor's Note: I Wish I Were Wrong — Economist Laments Being Right. See Interview.

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