REVERSING COURSE: THE NEW W.H. STRATEGY ON SEQUESTRATION -- "For the last six months, the White House told the groups that will suffer the biggest blow if domestic cuts go through one thing: We've got this. But a week before the sequester deadline, they've decided to change course, summoning cops, teachers, nurses and first responders to the White House for meetings on how to pitch their case to lawmakers on Capitol Hill reluctant to cut a deal," Darren Samuelsohn writes for the hometown paper.
-- Here's the key nugget in Samuelsohn's piece: "Senior White House and Cabinet aides have been holding daily meetings this week focusing on the real-world implications of the budget battle and how to shame Republicans into coming to the table -- even after the cuts take effect on March 1." Why does that matter? Both sides think the major question about sequestration is what happens after, not if, it goes into effect. House Republican sources say the answer is nothing. Their caucus is here to cut spending, not raise taxes. The White House is telling its allies, per Darren, that there's a window between the imposition of sequestration and the time later in March when Congress must extend funding for government operations or face a shutdown during which Congress could be pressured to replace the sequestration cuts with a package of other cuts and tax increases.
-- HIDDEN SIREN? More Samuelsohn -- This is the part where Darren tells us that the White House is planning to tell agencies "how they should apply" cuts -- a harbinger of a change from the across-the-board nature of the reductions? "The Obama aides -- including Heath and Human Services Deputy Secretary Bill Corr, Office of Public Engagement Acting Director Stephanie Valencia, White House policy aide Carole Johnson and Tom Reilly of the Office of Management and Budget -- told the health groups that OMB would be issuing a sequestration order March 1 that gives the different federal agencies specific directions on how they should apply the cuts to their different programs, projects and activities." http://politi.co/12VXr5r