The White House says it’s hands are tied by the $85 billion sequester, but budget experts counter that it will have some flexibility to choose what to cut and what to save.
The wiggle-room is inviting accusations from Congress that President Obama is mismanaging the cuts.
Critics also say the flexibility could allow the administration to make the cuts more painful, in order to pressure congressional Republicans to raise taxes as part of a sequester-replacement. Some of these critics point to the decision to not deploy an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf.
The White House has made the case it has almost no flexibility given the sequester’s requirement that it cut domestic discretionary spending by 9 percent and military spending by 13 percent.
“What happens is, OMB, we take this amount, this $85 billion that we have to cut, and we apply it to every account in government,” Office of Management and Budget Controller Danny Werfel told reporters.