The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Midday Update: Sequestration Comes to the Campaign Trail

by Newsteam Staff
August 8, 2012

Photo of the Day: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shakes hands with workers at Acme Industries in Elk Grove Village, Illinois August 7, 2012 (Jessica Rinald/Courtesy Reuters). Photo of the Day: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shakes hands with workers at Acme Industries in Elk Grove Village, Illinois August 7, 2012 (Jessica Rinald/Courtesy Reuters).

Potentially imperiling his reelection campaign, President Barack Obama will be required by law to detail how he would make the $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts (Politico) that will happen automatically next year if a last-minute deal with Congress cannot be reached.

The first year of the decade of cuts comes to $110 billion out of the total $3.8 trillion annual budget, with Social Security, Medicaid, children’s health insurance program, food stamps, veterans’ benefits, and other social programs exempted from cuts. But the rest of the $3.8 trillion annual budget must be slashed under the sequestration measure that kicked in (CBS) after the congressional “supercommittee” could not come to an agreement on a deficit-cutting plan.

“And there’s no way to whack the budget without making somebody mad. Longtime Democratic allies are trying to protect cherished domestic programs,” write Politico’s Darren Samuelson and Manu Raju. “Republicans — and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta — are warning that national security programs are in peril, and the GOP is already highlighting the potential loss of military jobs in battlegrounds such as Colorado, Florida, and Virginia,” which are major swing states.

Both campaigns are preparing for the issue to become central to the debate this fall, they write, with the GOP encouraging Mitt Romney to avoid specifics on how he would handle the cuts as the presidential election closes in and Romney and Obama taking swipes at each other over tax cuts and other economic plans.

The Obama administration and campaign are bracing for the possibility that the Assad regime in Syria could fall at the peak of the president’s reelection fight (AFP) against GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

Senior U.S. officials say they do not know how long Bashar al-Assad will be able to hold on to power, “but insist his departure is inevitable and say prudence dictates preparing for the inevitable foreign policy headache,” writes AFP’s Stephen Collinson, noting the election fight adds any extra pressure.

According to the report, Washington is already in dialogue with Turkey, Jordan, and other regional powers on maintaining basic services and minimizing Iran’s strategic influence without the United States taking primary responsibility there, should the Syrian government fall.

U.S. public perception of the economy — the primary discourse-driver of the 2012 election — remains mixed, with more than half of voters saying they are hearing both good and bad economic news, a new Pew poll says.

“Perceptions of economic news continue to differ across party lines, and these partisan divides have grown larger in recent months,” Pew says, with 60 percent of those self-identifying as Republicans reporting that they hear mostly bad news about the economy but 31 percent of Democrats saying the same.

Analysts say the election is likely to hinge on public perception of the U.S. economy and which candidate voters think is more likely to improve it and, in turn, the U.S. position in the global market.

– Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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