House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered different views of the sequester cuts that took effect late Friday night after lawmakers failed to reach a deal to avoid them.
On NBC's Meet The Press, Boehner criticized the cuts, calling them "silly" and "random."
"I am concerned about its impact on our economy and its impact on our military. Listen, we've known about his problem for 16 months. We've known the sequester was coming," he said. "I’ve watched leaders from both parties kick this can down the road. We’re out of road to kick the can down."
Boehner said he believed cuts were needed, but that "there are smarter ways to cut spending than this silly sequester that the president demanded... we need to address the long-term spending problem. But we can't cut our way to prosperity.”
When asked how the cuts would affect economic growth, Boehner said, "I don't know whether it's going to hurt the economy or not. I don't think anyone quite understands how the sequester is really going to work.”
The House Speaker insisted he did everything he could to avoid the cuts and blamed the president and the Democrats for not reaching a deal.
"There's no one in this town who's tried harder to come to an agreement with the president and deal with this long-term spending problem," he said.
"We have a $16 trillion national debt,” he said. “Our debt is as big as our economy. That alone makes us look like a Western European country... I think the American people know we have a spending addiction in Washington."
McConnell said that Senate Republicans are open to discussing how to rework the cuts, but put his foot down on raising taxes.
The first of the automatic spending cuts took effect on Friday after months of unproductive negotiations between the White House and Republicans. The cuts, totaling $1.2 trillion, were designed during the 2011 debt ceiling crisis in hopes that it would force Congress to reach a deal to balance the budget. A Congressional Budget Office official said that the cuts could cost 750,000 jobs.
Last month, Boehner called the cuts "ugly and dangerous."
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