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White House Open to Two-Month Sequester Deal

President Barack Obama supports $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue for a sequester replacement bill, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday.

Carney also said the White House was open to a bill that would avert the sequester for as little as two months.

Obama, for his part, said in a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he would continue to talk to members of Congress and the American people as he pushes for a balanced plan to replace the sequester, including revenue from closing loopholes.

“This should be a no-brainer,” Obama said, warning that allowing the automatic spending cuts to take effect would slow the recovery, although he said it would not be as harmful to the world financial system as the threat of defaulting on the debt.

As for the odds that Congress will still act, Obama said, “Hope springs eternal.”

Carney was asked by reporters about the Senate Democrats’ bill — which would offset the sequester for the rest of the calendar year with half new revenue and half spending cuts split between defense and farm programs.

“Whatever the ratio is in the bill, I would point you to the president’s overall approach to this, which has been $2 in spending cuts to $1 in revenue,” Carney said.

Carney said the White House wants both the House and the Senate to pass a bill that would avert the sequester in a balanced way next week, and he noted that the fiscal cliff deal averted the sequester for two months. “It could be that” again, Carney said.

The White House has been vague about what ratio it would accept in a sequester bill beyond “balance,” although the White House has said previously that it would accept a deal that had more cuts than revenue taking into account that they netted $600 billion in the fiscal cliff deal. The White House proposal still on the table from December would add roughly $600 billion in new revenue and $900 billion in spending cuts, or a roughly 60-40 ratio.

Ratios are moot, however, as long as the GOP continues to stick to its demand for an all-cuts alternative. There was no sign Friday that Republicans were prepared to soften their no-more-new-revenue position.

The White House also has yet to use the “veto” word when it comes to a sequester replacement bill that does not raise revenue.

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