The major news media still seem to be missing it, but The Hill posted a piece yesterday about the real flexibility the Obama administration has in dealing with the sequester spending limits. Without getting too deep into what is a fairly tangled mess, there are a couple things to keep in mind as you read that story.
The federal government operates by Congress legislating authority and funds for certain "programs, projects, and activities." Each "PPA" is then assigned to one of more than 1200 account numbers in the federal government and the funds disbursed from there. Those accounts can contain only one PPA or hundreds, maybe even thousands if you count each earmark. For an entity the size of the federal government you can imagine that there's a huge volume of activity and transactions to be managed, but in theory it's fairly simple.
As we all know, reality is rarely as simple as theory. Circumstances change over the course of a year and while Congress in no way wants to give up the power of the purse, they also don't want to be bothered with having to pass laws to handle every small change needed to keep every department or PPA operating. There's a certain amount of wiggle room built into federal spending to allow the administration to manage all of that and it ranges from assumed to explicit depending on the language of the authorization.
Not only are the account structures and rules complicated, the actual law governing whether the administration should apply cuts at the PPA level or at the account level, leaving even much more wiggle room, is even more arcane and contradictory. Some of it goes all the way back to the Reagan era and the Gramm-Rudman Budget Control Act of 1985, when actual budgets and normal appropriations bills were the rule. Since we haven't operated under those since Obama took office, a strong case can be made that rules that apply to those don't apply to the continuing resolutions we're stuck with today.
Read the article for the details that the Lamestream media aren't telling you. The upshot is that Obama has far more room to manage the spending limits from the sequester than he is telling the us. He is deliberately threatening to inflict unnecessary pain on the public, federal workers, and the economy in hopes of blaming that on the GOP.
I've seen presidents of both parties make mistakes, but this is the first time seen one made with such intentional and cynical disregard for the welfare of the country.