TODAY   |  March 02, 2013

Expert on sequester: ‘Cuts are not world-ending’

Robert Gibbs, a former White House press secretary, said that while the spending cuts are being called an Apocalypse by some, they may not be as bad as the hype. TODAY’s Erica Hill interviews Robert Gibbs.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> likes the cuts. everybody says they didn't want them. but i don't think we can say there was much of an effort to stop them. there is one 11th hour meeting. you've been there. behind closed doors , what happens? was this anything more than political theeter?

>> i do think they spent more time discussing how to deal with the next deadline which is at the end of this month and basically the funding mechanism for government throughout the rest of the fiscal year goes into effect. i think by the time leaders came to the white house yesterday the dye had been cast for several weeks. this is more about how to operate our fiscal situation going forward.

>> there's been a lot of talk about the president trying to get the message out there that he needs a little public outrage to carry this down the path he would like to see. yet, we see him changing the message saying this isn't going to be as dire immediately. how important is that message change to what he's trying to ultimately accomplish and will it work?

>> well, i think what you heard him say there is the cuts are arbitrary. they're dumb. and they will hurt the economy. i do think -- i mean apocalyptic is world ending. i don't think the cuts are world ending. i do think as they are phased in over a matter of weeks that you'll see the pain ratchet up, anything from threatening military readiness to making as much more inconvenient to travel by air, as kristen talked about, federal workers being furloughed. there's no doubt this will have an economic impact and that will be felt around the country.

>> it will be felt. do you think it will bring with it enough of that public outrage or are these cuts, in fact, here to stay?

>> well, i -- i'm going to answer yes to both of those questions. obviously the white house and democrats are betting on ramped up pressures as these cuts are phased in to bring republicans back to the bargaining table. i have to say, i think if you were betting today, it is far more likely that these cuts continue and are -- continue throughout this fiscal year than they are dialed back at this point. i think these cuts were implemented last night are here to stay for quite some time.

>> robert gibbs , nice to see you this morning. thank you.