Obama, Congress To Talk Sequester (in Past Tense)

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 27 2013 10:16 AM

Obama Will Meet With Congressional Leaders To Discuss Sequester (in the Past Tense)

President Barack Obama walks to the Oval Office upon returning at the White House.
President Barack Obama walks to the Oval Office upon returning at the White House.

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

In case anyone needed any more proof that the March 1 sequester deadline isn't exactly a hard, no-going-back-now deadline, here's the news out of Washington this morning:

President Barack Obama will hold a White House meeting Friday to discuss plans to avoid the sequester cuts with House Speaker John Boehner, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, two sources briefed on the plans confirm to POLITICO.

The meeting will be the first time that the president has spoken face-to-face with the congressional leaders about the cuts. For those without a calender handy, Friday's date is March 1, the day that the sequestration technically goes into effect. The reality of the situation, of course, isn't quite as dire as the headlines may lead you to believe. Here's how Slate's Matthew Yglesias summed things up last week:

When the sequester hits on March 1, nothing much happens. The cuts take effect, but agencies have been expecting them for months and are prepared to slow down their pace of outlays. The legislation creating the sequester back in 2011 deliberately minimized the amount of discretion that agency managers have over how to allocate cuts. But even an across-the-board cut applied to every program doesn’t imply an exact equal reduction in the amount of spending each and every day or even week. For a few weeks, any halfway competent agency is going to be able to keep things running more or less as they have been recently. Big shortfalls in services would only show up later down the road.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has a nice piece this morning on how the cuts—if and when they finally are felt—won't be spread out evenly across the entire country.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.