US budget chief: Automatic spending cuts likely

Updated: 2013-01-28 13:32


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WASHINGTON - Automatic spending cuts postponed at the beginning of the year are likely to take effect as scheduled in March because the Democrats are not willing to accept Republican proposals to avert them, the House of Representatives Budget Committee chairman said on Sunday.

"I think the sequester is going to happen," Paul Ryan, chairman of the House budget panel and the GOP 2012 vice presidential nominee, said on the NBC program "Meet The Press".

US budget chief: Automatic spending cuts likely

US Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks during his appearance on "Meet the Press" in Washington, Jan 27, 2013. [Photo/Agencies] 

"We think these sequesters will happen because the Democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those cuts with others and they have offered no alternatives," he added.

The spending cuts, which will hit both the Pentagon and many domestic programs, were set in motion in the hopes of forcing lawmakers into a large-scale agreement on deficit reduction.

If allowed to happen, they would require government spending reductions totaling roughly 1.2 trillion dollars over the next decade.

In the debate over how to bring down the deficits, Democrats have insisted on a combination of tax increases and public spending cuts while Republicans have favored spending cuts and resisted higher taxes. The GOP lawmakers have proposed to protect defense spending with deeper cuts on other government programs.

While sounding resigned to the possibility of the across-the- board sequesters, Ryan played down a potential fight with Democrats over the continuing resolution, a stop-gap government funding measure which expires on March 27. The US Congress has to authorize a new spending bill by that date to avert a government shutdown.

"We're not interested in shutting the government down," Ryan said.

"We are more than happy to keep spending at those levels going on into the future while we debate how to balance the budget, how to grow the economy, how to create economic opportunity. That's the kind of debate the country deserves," he noted.