National Journal Insiders | Sequestration Most Likely Scenario

Sequestration is now the most likely scenario, according to 78 percent of National Journal‘s National Security Insiders, who are not optimistic that Congress and the White House will reach a deal to reduce the deficit by the March 1 deadline.

"Since neither side is able to put the national interest above their own political interests, automatic cuts will do their jobs for them," one Insider said.

President Obama last week called on Congress to pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms to delay sequestration a few more months past March 1, to avoid the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts divided between defense and nondefense discretionary accounts "until Congress finds a way to replace these cuts with a smarter solution." Republicans, however, quickly rebuffed that plan.

"If Republicans cannot get a new deal involving entitlement cuts but no added tax revenue, they prefer accepting sequestration cuts to defense programs as the price of getting some cuts to civil programs. If Democrats cannot get a deal involving more tax revenue but without entitlement cuts, they prefer accepting sequestration cuts to civil programs as the price of getting some defense cuts," one Insider said. "And neither side thinks it can get a new deal that is acceptable to it." With President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, still butting heads over the best plan, one Insider said it is "hard to see how this cast of characters can square the circle."

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