White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer listed Wednesday cuts to agricultural subsidies and defense spending as options for a deal to avoid the sequester.
Pfeiffer declined to name a specific number when asked for the amount the White House would be willing to keep in place, but mentioned to the ratio proposed by Senate and House Democrats in their plans to avert sequestration:
WOLF BLITZER: The farm subsidies, that's one area that you're willing to start cutting right away. Is there another example because farm subsidies?
DAN PFEIFFER: We could do cuts in defense spending.
BLITZER: How much in defense spending this year do you want to cut as part of the $85 billion?
PFEIFFER: The president has — it represents about half of the spending side of the House and Senate Democrats' proposal.
BLITZER: That's what the sequestration plan has–
PFEIFFER: Yes, absolutely–
BLITZER: You would do the same?
PFEIFFER: No, I think there's two things to recognize here. The problem is with the sequester is it's a meat cleaver. These cuts go in and it doesn't offer the Pentagon and our military the chance to make smart cuts in the best interests of this country. Secretary Panetta talked about a carrier group that would not go to the Gulf because of these cuts. What we want to do is we can cut defense spending. There are places that we can save money but we should do it in a smart way. The path that it would put us on is making choices that protect this country and secure the homeland in the best way, we don't want to do that. They do.
Senate Democrats have put forth a plan that would stave off the sequester for 10 months through $55 billion in tax increases and loophole closures (including the Buffett Rule) and $55 billion in spending cuts to agricultural subsidies and defense spending.
Meanwhile, House Democrats have proposed cutting agricultural and oil and gas subsidies and installing the Buffett Rule.