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Sequestration cuts loom but no 'grand bargain'

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Interview with Randy Strahan, a Congressional politics expert.

Without a major reversal from Congress and President Barack Obama, sequestration hits Friday, March 1. Emory University political science experts say we should expect it to happen this time, with the possibility of another temporary solution and no 'grand bargain'.  

"Neither the White House nor the House Republican leadership is willing to agree to the compromises that would be required to make that happen," says political science professor and Congressional politics expert Randy Strahan.  

The sequester is a series of automatic budget cuts expected to save the country more than $1 trillion over 10 years. About 50 percent of that money is expected to come from the defense budget with the other half coming out of domestic spending, which could result in thousands of layoffs and furloughs, further slowing an economy that's already puttering along. But, it might also force action.  

"If the effects of sequestration have the severe, widespread, short-term consequences some have forecast, this situation will likely bring the President and Congressional Republicans back to the table to negotiate measures to alleviate the effects of the sequester," Strahan explains.  

The goal of the sequester when it was agreed upon in July 2011 was to force the government to shore up its long-term budget problems, but it hasn't worked as congressional leaders can't find a compromise.  

"Republicans have painted themselves into a corner," says Alan Abramowitz, political science professor and national politics expert. "Republicans are calling for cutting domestic spending and increasing the defense budget with no additional revenues. However, polls show that approach is imbalanced and unpopular. People don't want cuts to education, social security and other domestic programs."  

Congress avoided the sequester in December by pushing the deadline back to March 1.  

Faculty Experts

Randy Strahan is a Congressional politics expert. His research interests include partisanship and leadership in the U.S. Congress. He is the author of "Leading Representatives: The Agency of Leaders in the Politics of the U.S. House" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). He currently is working on a book about partisanship in Congress.

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Michael Rich
is a political science professor and director of Emory's Center for Community Partnerships. He specializes in public policy, federalism and urban politics and policy. His research interests and projects include welfare reform and issues related to the accessibility of low income households to job opportunities.

Alan Abramowitz
is a popular expert on national politics, polling and elections. His expertise includes election forecasting models, party realignment, congressional elections and the effects of political campaigns on the electorate. Abramowitz, the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science, is the author or coauthor of several books, including "The Polarized Public? Why Our Government is So Dysfunctional," published in 2012.

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Andra Gillespie
is a professor of political science, specializing in political mobilization and race. Her current research focuses on the political leadership of the post-civil rights generation. Gillespie is the author of  "The New Black Politician: Cory Booker, Newark and Post-Racial America" (NYU Press, 2012). In addition, Gillespie also maintains secondary academic interests in political participation, inter-minority group competition and evangelical politics in the United States.

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