'These cuts do not have to happen,' Obama says
February 25th, 2013
12:43 PM ET
5 years ago

'These cuts do not have to happen,' Obama says

(CNN) - In his latest push to pressure Congress before a series of massive, across-the-board forced spending cuts kick in on Friday, President Barack Obama is bringing state governors into the conversation.

The president spoke Monday morning before the National Governors Association at the White House, where he urged the state executives to weigh in on the matter.

"While you are in town, I hope that you speak with your congressional delegation and remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake and exactly who is at risk," Obama told the room full of governors gathered in Washington for their winter meeting.

He continued: "Because here's the thing. These cuts do not have to happen. Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise."

At issue is a disagreement over how to reduce the deficit. While Democrats, including the president, call for a mix of spending cuts and more revenue through tax reform, Republicans say taxes are off the table. The real issue, they say, is over-spending, even in entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

"I know that sometimes folks in Congress think that compromise is a bad word. And they figure they'll pay a higher price at the polls for working with the other side than they will for standing pat or engaging in obstructionism," Obama said. "But as governors, some of you with legislatures controlled by the other party, you know that compromise is essential to getting things done."

The forced spending cuts, known in Washington as the sequester, originated from a proposal first floated by the White House in mid-2011 as Congress faced an approaching deadline to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans and Democrats ultimately agreed to raise the debt limit and come up with a deficit-reduction agreement to offset the higher debt level. But, if they didn't act, they would face these automatic budget cuts, instead.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Friday said the sequester was designed to motivate lawmakers to come up with a better plan.

"It was simply a way of crafting policy that was so onerous, that would cause cuts that nobody liked–Republicans or Democrats-and ... it would compel Congress to compromise, come together on further deficit-reduction in a balanced way," Carney said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

The cuts were supposed to trigger at the beginning of the year, but Congress passed a fiscal cliff bill that delayed the spending reductions by two months, to March 1.

Congress returns to work Monday after a weeklong break, and while Senate Democrats plan to vote on a measure that would replace the cuts for one year, no feasible compromise plan appears in the works that would gain congressional approval before Friday.

If left untouched, the spending cuts will slash $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade, with $85 billion being cut over the next seven months. The White House on Sunday night issued an extensive, state-by-state analysis and dire warnings should the cuts go through.

The report detailed that food safety inspections, early education classrooms and mental health treatment are all at risk in the looming cuts. A reduction in defense spending, meanwhile, will stall maintenance on Navy ships.

All told, non-defense programs would be forced to reduce their spending by 9%, the White House said, while defense programs would have to cut 13%.

Obama on Monday also pointed to cuts in the pre-kindergarten program, "Head Start," which could force tens of thousands of parents to find childcare elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands, he added, will lose access to primary care and preventative care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.

"These impacts will not all be felt on Day One, but rest assured, the uncertainty is already having an effect," he said. "Companies are preparing layoff notices. Families are preparing to cut back on expenses. And the longer these cuts are in place, the bigger the impact will become."

Critics argue the White House is exaggerating the potential impact of the budget slashing, with some saying it's time for the country to reduce its spending–even if those cuts were not designed in the most desirable way.

Critics argue the White House is exaggerating the potential impact of the budget slashing, with some saying it's time for the country to reduce its spending.

"Enough's enough," GOP Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told reporters after the president's remarks. "The president needs to stop campaigning, stop trying to scare the American people, stop trying to scare states."

Jindal, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said the Obama administration has an "insatiable appetite for new revenue" and repeatedly argued it was time for the president to "show leadership."

If the cuts were "truly devastating," he said, then the administration should cut future programs, such as Obamacare measures, rather than chisel away at existing programs.

In the press conference, the governors also offered a bipartisan call for bipartisanship. Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut said lawmakers "need to get out of that box that sits under the dome and understand that this has real implications in peoples' lives."

"They should stop playing around with it and get the job done," he said. "And by the way they should compromise."

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican and vice-chair of the NGA, said if state governments are able to balance their budgets, then so should the federal government. She called on lawmakers to avert the spending cuts, or at least buy time and find a way to make smarter reductions, rather than across-the-board cuts.

"It creates so much uncertainty in our businesses and our workplace that it affects our job creation, our economic recovery as states. We're hoping that we can find some common ground," she said. "We've asked the president for flexibility, we've asked him not to shift those costs down to the states."

Republicans argue they have already compromised with Democrats by allowing an increase in tax rates in the fiscal cliff bill. And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor released a web video Monday that shows a series of clips in which Obama has said he wants to scour the federal budget "line by line, page by page" and cut programs that don't work.

The video ends with text on the screen that reads: "Shouldn't we go 'line-by-line' instead of raising taxes…again?…Spending is the problem."

But the president, as he has many times, said Monday that a deficit-reduction plan needs a balance of both cuts and new revenue.

"We can't just cut our way to prosperity. Cutting alone is not an economic policy," he said.

- CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Debt • Deficit • President Obama
soundoff (180 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    CB FL

    Let the cuts happen and the American people feel the pain. That is the only way they will vote out these people that put party before country
    I think you're right CB. There isn't much else that the GOP can do to us that they haven't done already.
    Their hatred for this President and their blatant disregard for the oath of office that they took is equaled only to their love of Party, their greed, and their mandate to protect the rich, their benefactors, at all cost up to and including at the expense of sinking the country and us with it.

    February 25, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. "Sequestration..vs..Procrastination"

    "Just creative Political double talk"..................................MEANING..................................................................

    Sequestration: "Allowing todays decision-making to be deferred just because its too unpleasant and burdensome to
    deal with it today"...........................................................AND..........................................................................

    Procrastination: "No decision-making today bcause its too unpleasant and burdensome to deal with it today" Lets put-off

    "the Political farce in Washington keeps on growing and growing"........etc

    February 25, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. tykl

    maybe people should vote for a leader next time. just a thought. o's campaign was nothing more than trying to distract people from who romney really is – which is a 100 times more a man and giver than o ever will be. let's not lose sleep over what romney spends his personal money on and maybe worry about the dolt who spent over a million dollars so he could get a golf lesson from tiger on public funds (i would appreciate if his harvard educated mouth and self-righteous hypocritical self might offer an explanation why that was necessary after he and his family was just in hawaii – his is nothing but a pile of excuses and failure)

    February 25, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Guest

    If BO's lips are moving, he's lying. He should prompt the senate to get their azz in gear and vote on the house plans and....stop spending on BS of course!

    February 25, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. lottie

    the republican party has said the president spends so much that the people believe them. Actually this president has spent less than his predecessor but if you lie over and over I guess it becomes reality. I see some post here still making racial slurs. Grow up you idiots. One more reason to get rid of the republican party

    February 25, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. tim

    It's Oblamers fault it's his plan and now as always he blame everyone and anyone If we had a budget for the last 4yrs we wouldn't be in this sequester thing Mr.pres. were are the jobs you promised and the budget? you have failed your on the job training.I blame the 51% of the idiots that voted for him.

    February 25, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Peter in Ottawa

    Obamas legacy = economic death of the USA.

    February 25, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. tim

    You have a dem. senate dem. pres. he could stop this if he wanted to. its his fault.

    February 25, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC


    If BO's lips are moving, he's lying. He should prompt the senate to get their azz in gear and vote on the house plans
    And what "house plans" might that be? In case you haven't noticed, all they have done since the first of the year was fight over the taxes for a couple of days, then they spent the rest of their time arguing over 'Sandy' relief funds before their vacation.

    Have come down with Romnesia like the rest of the right wing? Remember, just a mere 60 days ago Republicans blamed spending cuts to the DoD as the reason for the weak GDP last quarter. Remember? Now spending cuts are good for the DoD in the minds of the right wing?

    February 25, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Jenn, philadelphia

    Leaders have to make difficult decisions. It's time for him to be a leader. We cannot sustain this debt any longer and cuts need to be made. You can't solve all our problems by taxing the rich.

    February 25, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. Jack

    His plan cannot be enacted if congress refuses to pass it. Obama seems to want the middle class to be relieved. Rich figureheads in congress seem to have different desires. Put the politics aside and just figure it out.

    February 25, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Martha in CF

    Remember, Boehner said he got 98% of what he wanted with this deal and also said he was happy.........that means Boehner like the sequester that was voted on........................

    February 25, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    Gosh. I thought GOPers WANTED the cuts? After all, John Boehner DID bring a vote to the House ... didn't he? And gloated afterwards that he got "98%" of what he wanted. Why all the brouhaha now? It's not as if we haven't heard this same Grand Old Party song and dance for four years now. Cuts. Cuts. Cuts. We want more cuts. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    /popcorn - lightly buttered, please.

    February 25, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    The national debt can go up, but it doesnt count under a GOP POTUS. Annual budget deficits can go up, but it doesnt count under a GOP POTUS Shucks, you can crash the whole global economy, give nearly a trillion dollars to Wall Street banks with no requirement to ever pay it back,and it still doesn't count under a GOP POTUS.

    February 25, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Dave

    Sad picture. The face of a failed president. And he is taking the good old USA under with him. Sad. Very sad.

    February 25, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  16. tk

    We're not scared anymore, Mr. President!

    February 25, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. Gurgyl

    Recode tax reform–it takes care of everything. Fill all tax loopholes.

    February 25, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. er

    obamas legacy is failure.

    February 25, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. Pat

    Why does the liberal media give Obama a hall pass on leadership?? He is attempting to kick spending cuts down the road (again), he is actively inciting panic and fear about the "horrific effects" of the Mar 1 spending cuts, and does nothing more than point the finger of blame at republicans. The liberal media applauds his leadership and vision...really?? All I see is a popularist president riddled with cowardice to tackle tough issues or work in a bipartisan fashion.

    February 25, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. Agurus Guru

    Obama is right, the sequestration is not necessary. All he has to do is agree to sensible cuts instead of raising taxes and lying about whose fault it is. Bob Woodward is 100% correct in pointing out (with documentation) that it was Obama's idea. He is going to try and do it in a fashion to make the public feel pain, and then blame the GOP.

    February 25, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. nikolas

    Obama never was a leader. He has no idea was is leader. He just bla-bla-bla and he said, that all problem is because privies administration. He is right.

    February 25, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Steve

    I would walk very lightly if I was a DC Politician and let this happen – there are LOTS of people who feel they have nothing left to lose & wouldn't mind taking it out on someone!!

    February 25, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. Obama Sequester - Obama's idea, his Senate Democrats voted for it, Obama signed it into law, Obama said he would veto changes to it, OBAMA OWNS IT

    Obama strategy is to cause as much damage and suffering as possible to con the American people into believing that a $3.5 TRILLION government bureacracy (which doubled in size the last 11 years) is just too lean to be cut.

    Obama is ready to throw everybody under the bus to further his far left agenda. Which is pretty much what he has done with the country the last 4 years and will continue to do for another 4 years.

    February 25, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. tor5

    Republicans never tire of complaining about spending, but when they were asked to actually name specific cuts all they could come up with was Big Bird and "social science"... which cost almost nothing. Too bad. We need a legitimate opposition party. But these whining cowards have nothing to contribute.

    February 25, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. Jeffrey W Smith

    This is why they want to take guns away. We are going to hell in a handbasket.

    February 25, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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