Mass. Democrats tack sequester woes on Republican pols
As originally appearing in The Boston Herald

Chris Cassidy  and Marie Szaniszlo

Top Bay State Democrats continued to try to pin the sequestration chaos in D.C. on congressional Republicans yesterday, with Gov. Deval Patrick again accusing the GOP of trying to ruin the economy and saying he’s “scared,” while U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined in to slam “just plain dumb” budget cuts.

Patrick framed sequestration as a “partisan failure,” blaming GOP House Speaker John Boehner for refusing to strike a deal with President Obama.

“When the Republicans in the House say, ‘This is what we’re willing to do,’ and the president says, ‘OK, I think that’s a good idea,’ they say, ‘Well you know what? Never mind then.’ I think that’s as frustrating to the American public as it is to me,” Patrick said at a State House press conference yesterday.

Patrick Administration & Finance Secretary Glen Shor admitted there would be no immediate action at the state level if the sequestration blade falls on March 1, but Patrick warned it could lead to a slowdown in the economy and to crippling uncertainty in the private sector.

“I’m scared,” said Patrick. “I’m concerned.”

Meanwhile, Warren called the automatic cuts in federal spending slated to take effect Friday “just plain dumb,” but the Bay State’s recently elected senior senator said it’s largely up to congressional leaders to reach a compromise.

“We’re out there trying to make clear this means children kicked out of Head Start programs. This means teachers that are potentially laid off. This means fewer air traffic controllers,” she said. “It means here in Massachusetts fewer dollars going into research.”

New England Council president Jim Brett said Warren touched on some issues that are important to the council, including infrastructure and the cuts in research and defense spending that are expected to take effect if Congress and the president fail to cut a deal by Friday.

“She hit all of the key notes,” Brett said. “She made clear she wanted to be a protector of those programs.”

Boehner said yesterday he isn’t about to move off his long-held position that the sequester be offset through targeted spending cuts, not the package of cuts and tax increases Obama supports.

“Mr. President, you got your tax increase,” Boehner said, referring to the tax rate increases that took effect on Jan. 1. “It’s time to cut spending here in Washington.”

Meanwhile, Patrick took criticism he got from GOP operative Karl Rove as a compliment, when Rove accused Patrick of committing “wild libel” against congressional Republicans on “Meet the Press” Sunday.

“Thank you very much,” Patrick said when asked to react to the Rove jibe.

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