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March 3, 2013 at 5:00 PM
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Sperling: Obama on right side of sequester

WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- Gene Sperling, President Barack Obama's top economic adviser, did the Sunday talk show circuit, warning Americans about the impacts of the sequester.

On CNN's "State of the Union" Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, told moderator Candy Crowley the sequester -- the Washington term for a series of harsh, across-the-board spending cuts totaling $85 billion -- would cost the American economy 750,000 jobs and shave 0.6 percent off growth of gross domestic product.

"What that means is that every time you see an economic number, the next few months, you will know that there's less jobs being created that would have -- than would have been had we come to a bipartisan agreement," Sperling said.

Obama and Republicans have spent the better part of two weeks seeking to cast blame on the other for the spending cuts. The debate has centered on whose idea the sequester was in the first place, with Republicans charging it was Obama aides who proposed the automatic spending cuts in the first place.

At first denying the allegations, Democrats have since clarified: They proposed the sequester, but only after they said Republicans demanded some sort of automatic spending cuts.

"A murderer comes up to you and says, 'Give me your wallet.' You say, 'I don't have my wallet, but here's my watch.' Well, technically giving your watch was your idea, but it doesn't really tell the whole story," Sperling said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

He also faced down criticism that the Obama administration has over-hyped the cuts' effects in an attempt to turn public opinion against Republicans who favor them.

"This is not a win for Republicans," he said on ABC's "Face the Nation." "You know Republicans are supposed to be for stronger national defense. This cuts our military preparedness dramatically. They're supposed to be for border security? These sequester cuts will end up meaning enough reduction in hours that it would be the equivalent of 5,000 border patrol agents being cut."

Boehner: Dems twiddling thumbs on spending

WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said he was the hardest working man in Washington when it comes to getting the economy on track and ending the sequestration.

Boehner said on NBC's "Meet the Press" it was the Democrats in the White House and Congress who were twiddling their thumbs rather than buckling down and addressing the serious issue of out-of-control federal spending.

"There is no one in this town who's tried harder to come to an agreement with the president and to deal with our long-term spending problem, no one," said Boehner. "And we've not been able to come to an agreement. But the House did its work to avoid this sequester, to avoid these random and automatic spending cuts."

"The fact is, the president and Senate Democrats have done nothing to pass a plan to avert this and to deal honestly with the spending problem the country has," Boehner added.

Boehner most recently has said it was the Democratic-controlled Senate's turn to compile a plan to slash the budget and present it to the Republican-dominated House.

Boehner told NBC the sequester, a massive package of spending reductions, was a poor way to achieve the necessary cuts and the key was tax reform that lowered rates on all Americans regardless of their income.

"We've got to find a way through our tax code to promote more economic growth in our country," Boehner said. "We can do this by closing loopholes, bringing the rates down for all Americans, making the tax code fairer. It will promote more economic growth."

Senators plan to delay CIA confirmation

WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- Two senators said they won't approve the nominee for the head of the CIA until they receive additional documents on the handling of the Benghazi attack.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday and vowed to stop John Brennan's confirmation until further information is released on the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate that left four Americans dead.

A vote on Brennan in the Senate Intelligence Committee is scheduled for Tuesday.

Graham's critique of the administration's response led to U.S. Secretary to the United Nations Susan Rice removing her list from the potential candidates for Secretary of State.

Rice appeared on "Face the Nation" following the attack and incorrectly called the incident a "spontaneous" demonstration over an anti-Muslim video.

Now, Graham is asking for interviews of the survivors and transmissions from Benghazi to Washington from the night of the attack.

"I'm not going to vote on a new CIA director until I find out what the CIA did in Benghazi," Graham said.

McCain said he too just wants answers to the questions he has asked Brennan.

Romney hopes to remain relevant in GOP

WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- Mitt Romney said Sunday he hoped to continue to have some influence within the Republican Party despite his loss in the U.S. presidential election.

Romney said on "Fox News Sunday" he did not consider himself to be a leader of the GOP due to his failure to unseat President Obama, but wanted to play a roll in getting the Republicans in position to run the country down the road.

" I look at what's happening right now, I wish I were there," said Romney said. "It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done."

Romney chastised Obama over the so-called sequestration spending cuts. He said Obama "didn't think the sequester would happen" and has resorted to 2012-style campaigning in an attempt to make the Republicans look bad when he should be doing more to mollify his opponents.

"The president has the opportunity to lead the nation and to bring Republicans and Democrats together," Romney said. "It is a job he's got to do and it's a job only the president can do."

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