President Obama Says Inaction Near Sequester Deadline 'Troubling'

By Newsroom America Staff at 19 Feb 2013

(Newsroom America) -- President Obama says it is troubling that just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of automatic, severe budget cuts to take place that will hit the U.S. economy hard.

In 2011 Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, about a trillion dollars of additional, arbitrary budget cuts would start to take effect this year.

Speaking at the White House, President Obama said the whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattractive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing tax loopholes and so forth.

"And so this was all designed to say we can't do these bad cuts; let’s do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration.

"Unfortunately, Congress didn’t compromise. They haven't come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we've got these automatic, brutal spending cuts that are poised to happen next Friday," he said.

President Obama said if Congress allows this "meat-cleaver approach" to take place, it will "jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research. It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions."

"Emergency responders like the ones who are here today -- their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed.

"Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings," he said.

The Navy has already delayed an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf and military leaders have said tens of thousands of jobs are at risk.

"So these cuts are not smart. They are not fair. They will hurt our economy. They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls. This is not an abstraction -- people will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again. ," he said.

President Obama said Congress has to act in order to stop this happening.

He said Republicans in Congress face a simple choice: "Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education and health care and national security and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations? That's the choice."

President Obama said his "door is open."

"I’ve put tough cuts and reforms on the table. I am willing to work with anybody to get this job done. None of us will get 100 percent of what we want. But nobody should want these cuts to go through, because the last thing our families can afford right now is pain imposed unnecessarily by partisan recklessness and ideological rigidity here in Washington."

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