Nineteen months after it was put into place, the sequester has arrived.
Barring unexpected developments, President Obama will issue an order at some point on Friday — perhaps as late as 11:59 p.m. — cancelling some $85 billion in spending across the federal government.
It’s an outcome that no one in Washington wanted. When the across-the-board cuts were devised in the summer of 2011, they were intended to be so destructive, so appallingly arbitrary, that the parties would have no choice but to swallow a “grand bargain” on cutting the deficit.
But that breakthrough never came, and it’s unclear if one ever will.
Obama is scheduled to host congressional leaders at the White House on Friday, but few expect that meeting to spark progress on undoing the cuts that both sides have bemoaned as foolish.
“I think it’s probably going to take awhile before there’s a real meeting,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on Thursday. “I would look at tomorrow as a photo op — I really would. And I don’t know of anybody who’s viewing it differently at this point.”