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During President Barack Obama's meeting with U.S. governors at the White House Monday, the president dismissed members of the press to hold a private, hourlong discussion with the visiting state executives. Whatever was said after the cameras left the room especially incensed South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.
Haley went across the street to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after the meeting, where she joined fellow Republican Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin in berating both Congress and the Obama administration for failing to agree to an alternative to the looming across-the-board federal budget cuts set to trigger March 1.
"I could not be more frustrated than I am right now," Haley told reporters after the meeting. She said that when she asked Obama if he would consider a last-minute plan to shave about 2 percent from the annual federal budget without increasing taxes, the answer was "no."
"My kids could go and find $83 billion out of a $4 trillion budget," Haley said. "This is not rocket science."
As part of a budget agreement passed in 2011, the federal budget will automatically be reduced on March 1 by about 2.4 percent if a deal isn't reached. Lawmakers had hoped to avoid the reductions by agreeing to more specific cuts from the budget, but talks between Republicans and Democrats have largely fallen apart due to a disagreement over whether tax increases should be part of the package.
Haley also made no effort to spare congressional Republicans, who took last week off with only a few days left before the sequestration process was set to begin.
"There is no leadership. There is no confidence. There is nothing that shows us that they actually care about what they're doing," Haley said. "What they're doing is playing games, and we as the taxpayers are having to cover for their games. We're not going to do it anymore."
Haley also noted that "no one should be going home. No one should be playing golf. No one should be taking vacations."
She later added, "There is something very wrong in this town."