President Obama may still be dispatching his cabinet across the country in an effort to frighten the American people about the sequester spending cuts set to begin this Friday, but on Capitol Hill reality has set in: the sequester is going to happen and, unless they cave, there is nothing the White House can do about it.

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., are already looking towards the next fiscal battle, the March 27th expiration of the continuing resolution that is currently funding the federal government. And that battle looks even worse for Democrats.

Republicans are preparing a bill that is set to be unveiled next week that would fund the federal government through September at sequester levels, but would give Obama more flexibility on how to manage the Pentagon’s share of sequester cuts. A White House official told The Journal Obama would not go along with such a plan, but Senate Democratic aides say if sequester flexibility is extended to domestic spending, it will be hard for the Senate not to pass the new House continuing resolution. “There’s an emerging consensus that it would be a difficult battle to have,” a Democratic Senate leadership aide told The Journal. “I don’t think we could force a shutdown.”

And that really is the question. If Boehner can get his conference to vote for a CR that funds the federal government at sequestration levels, but also gives Obama more flexibility to minimize the pain, are Senate Democrats really willing to shutdown the federal government on March 28th if they don’t get tax hikes in the deal?

From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: Obama’s Washington Monument strategy
Byron York: How defense spending will grow under sequester cuts
Michael Barone: Jack Lew’s sweet deal at Citigroup
Conn Carroll: The sequester’s federalism opportunity
Sean Higgins: Federal employee unions brace for sequester furloughs
David Freddoso: Don’t just laugh at Dan Rather — learn from him

In Other News
The Hollywood Reporter, Michelle Obama Makes Surprise Oscars Appearance, Reads Best Picture: First Lady Michelle Obama appeared via video screen to present the top Oscar, an unexpected moment that shocked the audience. Introduced by Jack Nicholson, Obama paid tribute to Hollywood, celebrating movies “that lift spirits, broaden our minds and transport us to places we never imagined.”
The Washington Post, White House releases state-by-state breakdown of sequester’s effects: The White House on Sunday detailed how the deep spending cuts set to begin this week would affect programs in every state and the District, as President Obama launched a last-ditch effort to pressure congressional Republicans to compromise on a way to stop the across-the-board cuts.
ABC News, 57 Terrible Consequences of the Sequester: If the heads of 20 federal agencies are to be believed, disastrous consequences await if President Obama and Congress fail to reach a budget deal, triggering the automatic, across-the-board cuts known as “sequestration.”
The New York Times, Obama’s Backers Seek Big Donors to Press Agenda: President Obama’s political team is fanning out across the country in pursuit of an ambitious goal: raising $50 million to convert his re-election campaign into a powerhouse national advocacy network, a sum that would rank the new group as one of Washington’s biggest lobbying operations.
The New York Times, Budget Impasse Signals a Shift in G.O.P.’s Focus: With Congress unlikely to stop deep automatic spending cuts that will strike hard at the military, the fiscal stalemate is highlighting a significant shift in the Republican Party: lawmakers most keenly dedicated to shrinking the size of government are now more dominant than the bloc committed foremost to a robust national defense, particularly in the House.
Reuters, Afghan president to expel U.S. special forces from key province: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has given U.S. special forces two weeks to leave a key battleground province after some U.S. soldiers there were found to have tortured or even killed innocent people, the president’s spokesman said on Sunday.

Lefty Playbook
Ta-Nehisi Coates on Why the reelection of the first black president matters even more than his election.
Stuart Rothenberg claims Democrats’ sequester scare tactics are working.
Ezra Klein argues that Obama should be able to raise taxes as much as he wants because he won reelection.

Righty Playbook
Russ Roberts on the limits of Keynesianism.
Spencer Cowan on Rick Scott’s Medicaid decision and contemporary federalism.
Erick Erickson says Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell Thinks You’re an Idiot.