Will Obama Specify Sequester Cuts In His 2013 Budget?

Here’s the question I’ve been asked most often over the past week: Will the White House include in it’s fiscal 2013 budget — the one it will send to Congress in February — the cuts it will make in military and domestic spending under the assumption the sequester, which will impose automatic cuts to both defense and domestic spending, will go into effect on January 2, 2013 as it’s currently scheduled to do?

There’s no way to know for sure, but my strong suspicion is that the White House will do no such thing.

The president’s 2013 budget will include a plan that the White House will say, if it’s enacted, will eliminate the need for the sequester. The February budget won’t specify what will be cut if the sequester occurs except in the most macro terms.

The reason is that going into the election the White House will want to keep the focus on how the the president prefers to reduce the deficit rather than on how he will implement the changes imposed on him by the sequester if he’s reelected (Remember: the sequester will happen two months after the election). That prevents those possible cuts from becoming an election issue.

In addition, there’s really no reason for him to specify what he would cut and by how much a year before those cuts would go into effect.  This is especially the case because it’s likely that the sequester will never happen and specifying preferred spending cuts when you don’t have to is almost the definition of political suicide.

And in case you’re wondering…The Budget Control Act that set up the process that led to the anything-but-super committee’s failure and the sequester does not require that the spending reductions be included in the president’s budget.

[Cross-posted at Capital Gains & Games]