Erskine Bowles on Sequester: ‘Dumb, Stupid, Inane’

By Melanie Arter | February 19, 2013 | 11:21 AM EST

Erskine Bowles speaks at the annual meeting of the National Governors Association on Sunday, July 11, 2010, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

( – Former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles on Tuesday said the across-the-board sequester cuts, which are scheduled to take effect on March 1, are “dumb.”

“They are dumb, and they are stupid, stupid, stupid. They’re stupid, because first of all, they are inane. There’s no business in the country that makes its cuts across the board. You go in there, and you try to surgically cut those things that have the least adverse effect on productivity,” Bowles said at a Politico Playbook breakfast.

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“Second, we’re cutting those areas where we actually need to invest – education, infrastructure, research – and third, we don’t make any cuts in those things that are growing faster than the economy. That’s stupid, stupid, stupid,” Bowles said.

The sequester consists of automatic spending cuts – defense and non-defense spending – that will cut about $44 billion in federal spending and is expected to cost about $1 trillion over the next decade if allowed to go into full effect.

House Speaker John Boehner said Friday that the sequester will take place next month unless Congress agrees to balance the federal budget over the next decade.

“And yet it sounds like you think that when the sequester kicks in, that may be a window to do something big. You were White House chief of staff during the government shutdown. Tell us what’s going to happen March 1 when those sequester cuts kick and why you think that might be a chance to do something big,” Politico’s Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen told Bowles.

“When you guys have to go out here to Reagan Airport and wait in line three hours to get through security, you’re gonna be pissed, and so is everybody else. And you could use lots of different stories just like that, and when that happens, they’re going to come back to Congress and say, ‘We’re sick of this intransigence. Let’s get together. Let’s do something smart. Let’s put the partisanship aside. Let’s pull together, and let’s fix this debt,’” Bowles said.