White House: Obama’s position on sequester unchanged

“It was designed to trigger a mechanism to compel congress to make the specific decisions to reach a balanced deficit reduction package,” Carney said, adding the president is “confident” that Congress will achieve a balanced deficit reduction plan.

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Obama’s sequestration comments on Monday, in which he blamed Congress for the sequester and said it will not happen, were just the latest round in what’s become a rhetorical battle between congressional Republicans and the White House over the cuts.

Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress blame Obama for the cuts, saying that the sequester was the administration’s idea — citing reporting in Bob Woodward’s latest book — and complaining that Obama hasn’t proposed a solution while the GOP has passed a bill in the House.

Republican aides also said Tuesday that Obama had weakened the Democrats’ bargaining position in fiscal cliff deliberations by saying sequestration wouldn’t occur.

Obama pushed back against the GOP attacks Monday by arguing that Republican leadership — including Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan — voted for sequestration.

Carney also alluded to reports that Republicans chose putting defense cuts in the sequester rather than revenue.

“The president’s position throughout the negotiations last summer … was always that a trigger would include revenue,” Carney said.

Both Democrats and Republicans want to avoid the across-the-board sequestration cuts, which would total $1 trillion in defense and non-defense spending over the next decade. But the two sides are deadlocked on how to resolve the cuts due to a dispute over taxes.

Republican lawmakers said Tuesday that he still needed agreement from Congress to avert the cuts, despite his statement it would not happen. Obama has threatened to veto any bills that don’t provide an alternative to sequestration, which takes effect Jan. 2.

After Obama’s remark Monday, White House senior adviser David Plouffe backtracked, saying that Obama was explaining the consensus in Washington that no one thinks the cuts “should happen.”