Budget battle: Obama urges Congress to 'compromise' on cuts

In this Feb. 19, 2013, photo, President Barack Obama speaks about the sequester, as he stands with emergency responders, a group of workers the White House says could be affected if state and local governments lose federal money as a result of budget cuts in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office building on the White House complex in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

In this Feb. 19, 2013, photo, President Barack Obama speaks about the sequester, as he stands with emergency responders, a group of workers the White House says could be affected if state and local governments lose federal money as a result of budget cuts in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office building on the White House complex in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON — Facing an end of the week deadline, President Barack Obama said Monday that Congress can avert sweeping across-the-board cuts with "just a little bit of compromise," as he sought to stick lawmakers with the blame if the budget ax falls.

Speaking to the nation's governors, Obama acknowledged that the impact of the $85 billion in cuts may not be felt immediately. But he also said the uncertainty already is impacting the economy, as the Pentagon and other agencies get ready to furlough employees.

"At some point we've got to do some governing," Obama said. "And certainly what we can't do is keep careening from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis."

Despite Obama's urgent rhetoric, there is little indication that the White House and Congress will reach a deal by Friday's deadline. Obama wants to offset the so-called sequester through a combination of targeted spending cuts and revenue increases, but Republicans oppose any plan that would include tax hikes.

The $85 billion budget-cutting mechanism could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms to meat inspections. Domestic and defense spending alike would be trimmed, leading to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of government workers and contractors.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said travelers could see delayed flights. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said 70,000 fewer children from low-income families would have access to Head Start programs. And furloughed meat inspectors could leave plants idled.

Despite the Friday deadline, there are no serious negotiations happening between the White House and Congress. Obama is focused instead are trying to rally public support for his stance in the debate by warning Americans of the dire consequences of the across-the-board cuts.

The president told the governors that cuts would "''slow our economy, eliminate good jobs, and leave a lot of folks who are already pretty thinly stretched scrambling to figure out what to do."

The spending cuts have frustrated governors attending the National Governors Association meeting in Washington. They contend it has created widespread uncertainty in the economy and hampered economic recovery in their states.

"The No. 1 risk, in my view, to the continuing economic comeback of Michigan is the federal government," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican and former business executive, said in an interview. Snyder said many companies remain in limbo on whether to invest in their business because of the financial uncertainty.

"What's the likely outcome? Are they going to put in a solution that's set for two or three years or are they simply going to say now it's going to move to the fall? It's not good," he said.

The White House, seeking to ratchet up pressure on congressional lawmakers, gave the governors state-by-state reports on the impact of the cuts on their constituencies.

White House officials pointed to Ohio — home of House Speaker John Boehner — as one state that would be hit hard: $25.1 million in education spending and another $22 million for students with disabilities. Some 2,500 children from low-income families would also be removed from Head Start programs.

Officials said their analysis showed Kentucky would lose $93,000 in federal funding for a domestic abuse program, meaning 400 fewer victims being served in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's home state. Georgia, meanwhile, would face a $286,000 budget cut to its children's health programs, meaning almost 4,200 fewer children would receive vaccinations against measles and whooping cough.

The White House compiled its state-by-state reports from federal agencies and its own budget office. The numbers reflect the impact of the cuts this year. Unless Congress acts by Friday, $85 billion in cuts are set to take effect from March to September.

As to whether states could move money around to cover shortfalls, the White House said that depends on state budget structures and the specific programs. The White House did not have a list of which states or programs might have flexibility.

Republican leaders were not impressed by the state-by-state reports.

"The White House needs to spend less time explaining to the press how bad the sequester will be and more time actually working to stop it," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner.

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Comments » 3

1Paradiselost writes:

We Should Have Seen Sequester Coming:

So, imagine a guy just standing there, oblivious to the fact that someone is sneaking up behind him with the intention of hitting him in the back of the head with a blackjack.

In this case, the guy standing there is the appallingly ignorant American public, and the fiend about to smack him is Congress. The blackjack is the “sequester” sure to go into effect Friday unless there is an unexpected outbreak of logic and common sense in the nation’s capital.

According to a survey last week by the Pew Research Center and USA Today, only 27 percent of Americans say they have heard “a lot” about the sequester, 43 percent say they have heard “a little” and 29 percent have heard “nothing at all.”

The survey also showed that should an agreement to avert the crisis not be reached, 49 percent of Americans would blame congressional Republicans, and 31 percent would blame President Barack Obama.

As Obama won’t be running for any office again, this is a much more worrisome statistic for House Republicans — all of whom will be up for re-election in 2014, and for various senators who will have to face the voters next year or in 2016.

The sequester was agreed to as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as the debt ceiling compromise, because Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on how to finance our government. The thinking was to propose such mindless, awful cuts to civilian and military budgets that no sane group of people could ever allow them to take effect.

But lately, Congress has been anything but sane. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction couldn’t agree on how to cut $1.5 trillion over 10 years before the original Dec. 23, 2011, deadline, which was then was moved to March 1.

Obama has been taking his advocacy of a balance of cuts and closing tax loopholes for the wealthy to the people. Republicans don’t agree with his plans, but everyone with the exception of those on the far right acknowledge that the president was correct about the effects of a sequester.

He mentioned drastic diminution to our military preparedness, layoffs and furloughs of emergency responders, border patrol and FBI agents, federal prosecutors and air traffic controllers, among others.

“Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off,” Obama said. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.”

This blackjack to the back of the head and possible recession will likely result in a serious economic wound that is self-inflicted. After all, we were the ones who sent those characters to represent us in Washington.

This link is to the editorial above:

http://thedailystar.com/opinion/x1837...

panola60 writes:

The Obama Sequester: He Was For It, Before He Was Against It

President Obama proposes devastating military cuts. . .

Obama: "I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts, domestic and defense spending"

But now the deceptive Obama blames Congress for the devastating cuts he proposed and demanded to keep!

Obama got the tax increase he asked for but now won't keep his end of the bargain with the spending cuts to make it a "balanced approach". He won't even cut his corrupt green energy program that has wasted 100s of billions to bankruptcy, kickbacks, crony payoffs and China.

Republicans gave the tax increase, now tell Obama to keep his word and do a "balanced approach" with the spending cut he promised.

ajm3s writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

We Should Have Seen Sequester Coming:

So, imagine a guy just standing there, oblivious to the fact that someone is sneaking up behind him with the intention of hitting him in the back of the head with a blackjack.

In this case, the guy standing there is the appallingly ignorant American public, and the fiend about to smack him is Congress. The blackjack is the “sequester” sure to go into effect Friday unless there is an unexpected outbreak of logic and common sense in the nation’s capital.

According to a survey last week by the Pew Research Center and USA Today, only 27 percent of Americans say they have heard “a lot” about the sequester, 43 percent say they have heard “a little” and 29 percent have heard “nothing at all.”

The survey also showed that should an agreement to avert the crisis not be reached, 49 percent of Americans would blame congressional Republicans, and 31 percent would blame President Barack Obama.

As Obama won’t be running for any office again, this is a much more worrisome statistic for House Republicans — all of whom will be up for re-election in 2014, and for various senators who will have to face the voters next year or in 2016.

The sequester was agreed to as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as the debt ceiling compromise, because Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on how to finance our government. The thinking was to propose such mindless, awful cuts to civilian and military budgets that no sane group of people could ever allow them to take effect.

But lately, Congress has been anything but sane. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction couldn’t agree on how to cut $1.5 trillion over 10 years before the original Dec. 23, 2011, deadline, which was then was moved to March 1.

Obama has been taking his advocacy of a balance of cuts and closing tax loopholes for the wealthy to the people. Republicans don’t agree with his plans, but everyone with the exception of those on the far right acknowledge that the president was correct about the effects of a sequester.

He mentioned drastic diminution to our military preparedness, layoffs and furloughs of emergency responders, border patrol and FBI agents, federal prosecutors and air traffic controllers, among others.

“Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off,” Obama said. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.”

This blackjack to the back of the head and possible recession will likely result in a serious economic wound that is self-inflicted. After all, we were the ones who sent those characters to represent us in Washington.

This link is to the editorial above:

http://thedailystar.com/opinion/x1837...

I an not here to present a partisan argument, but the sequester amounts to $85B which less than 3% of......

Oh never mind, you already have bought into Obama"s "balanced" approach. Listen to any business news and all analysts have pretty much said this is not really a crisis of any kind. In fact, I am awaiting a market sell off due to the increase in stock valuation over the last two months, and yesterday it took the Italian elections to stimulate the sell off, NOT the impending "doom" of the sequester.

Imagine, less than 3% cut of a budget increase is laughable in the real world, but the president loves to speak to the dire consequences.

Unbelievable spin or as I like to call it: Bull$$it!!!!!!!!!! And the truth of the matter it was the president's condition and threat of veto if the sequester did NOT pass Congress when he proposed it.

And as to the quotes by Obama...if he chooses to cut specific programs than that will occur, but he and department heads have latitude as to how and what to cut or reduce.

Problem, Obama never thought the Republicans would hold tight, in spite of defense cuts.

Oh boy!!!!!!And the winner is.........?

Those who believe in a smaller central government! Yeah!

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