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Obama urges a budget without brinkmanship. But can Congress stop the insanity?

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Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf recently testified that those cuts would reduce gross domestic product (GDP) by more than half a percentage point in 2013 and cost some 750,000 jobs. In an economy crawling along at about 2 percent annual growth in GDP and some 150,000 jobs created per month, that’s a big deal.

But just as the newly reelected president was able use the countdown to across-the-board tax increases with the fiscal cliff to extract tax increases from a recalcitrant GOP, Republicans are patiently waiting for Democrats to make their day as spending cuts loom.

“We don’t believe across-the-board spending cuts are a wise way to control spending in this town,” said Rep. Tom Price (R) of Georgia, a leading House conservative, “but if it’s the only way it will happen then that’s the way it will have to happen.”

While Democrats are reportedly constructing a sequester offset of alternative cuts, they will almost certainly include well-worn Democratic hobbyhorses, like ending special tax preferences for hedge fund managers and the oil industry, that are nonstarters for the GOP.

“The majority is going to offer a proposal. I anticipate that we will have an alternative proposal. That, however, doesn't lead to a solution. It just leads to a couple of votes,” said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky on Tuesday.

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