'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. Wake up People!

    It's hard to believe so many people are stupid enough to support the GOP. These people want to see our economy tank so we will never elect another uppity one of us.

    It's truly hard to believe this is 2013 and not 1865. I was just reading something about Lincoln , that even though he was freeing the slaves, the intent was for them to never be able to vote or hold office. Unfortunately for us, many still hold these same archaic views.

    Which is why I will tell anyone, Lincoln was no friend to blacks, he basically had no choice
    but to.

    February 25, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. hclark1271

    Is this the same guy who proposed that Congress get a raise? Now he is saying these cuts don't need to happen?

    Unfortunately, this is the only way the federal government will spend less. Automatic cuts. You can only blame the GOP for so much. Democrats control 2/3'rds of White House and Congress and are unable to come up with anything.

    When was the last time we had a budget? Heard anything about Gun Control?

    All I have heard is outrage by Pelosi with regards to a pay cut for Congressmen "demeaning the office" and not much else of substance.

    Keep blaming someone else. It takes leadership to just take some of the blame and work towards a solution.

    I am not seeing it here.

    February 25, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. jeff

    Why do the Dems want to vote to put off the cuts for a year, they have had 1 1/2 years since all this was set up. Stop blaming the other side, at least the Repubs have passed (2) measures to avert this, but that was in the last session and the Dems were afraid to put it to a vote in the Senate. This is the only way to get serious on :Spending", when spending is more than my income, guess what, I have to make cuts. Common Sense.

    February 25, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC


    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.
    What do you suggest that Pres. Obama do? Whatever he's doing, the markets seem to love it. They're running close to record highs. Serously, what do you want the President to do? He doesn't write the revenue bills. John Boehner has, or is supposed to have, total control of that process. What bills has the House passed to alleviate and remedy the situation? None. Name one bill that the House has passed to address the sequestered cuts. You can't because one does not exist.

    February 25, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    Blame the Republican Party for this disaster. Tea Party politicians welcome the tax cuts, even if it causes harm to the economy.

    February 25, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. McBob79

    Woodward documents in his 2012 book The Price of Politics that team Obama first proposed the idea of the sequester. Expanding on his work in a Sunday Washington Post op-ed, he noted—as he has before—that both President Obama and his would-be Treasury Secretary Jack Lew lied on the campaign trail by saying the sequester originated with House Republicans. The White House has now ceded that fact.

    They blasted Woodward, however, for writing that Obama "is moving the goal posts" by requiring that additional revenues be part of a sequester substitute.

    Oh the irony... more half-truths from the spin-doctor in chief.

    February 25, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. rs


    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.
    1. Republicas refuse to work with the President of the United States
    2. They have broken every agreement they have made with the President
    3. The Republican in the House wrote the Sequester- in part because they did not want a long-term solution
    4. There is no "bi-partisanism" if one party only seeks to obstruct.

    February 25, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Big_D

    This is what happens when the house is so gerrymandered we can't change it.

    February 25, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. William

    Cuts that are being forced on us by a plan brought forth by Obamas own administration. But at barely 2% of our 3 trillion dollar budget and it is spaced out over years i hardly think this is going to be an issue. We haven't had a Federal Budget in how many years? So while we are being made to look one way, here a snip from MSNBC: "MSNBC’s Chuck Todd criticized Monday the new fundraising efforts of President Obama’s dark money group, Organizing for Action, calling a scheme for high donors to meet regularly with Obama “the definition of selling access.” MSNBC isnt Fox. After years of total Dem control this is what we have gotten. We got gays in the military but no jobs. We got "paths to citizenship" but my gas has doubled in price. We banned light bulbs but the price of food has risen. We have to cut spending but we gave billions to green companies that bundled the most for OBamas '08 campaign who eventually went bankrupt.
    Hope and Change indeed.

    February 25, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Dan

    Mr President,

    Stop your finger-pointing.
    Stop your threats.
    Stop your doomsday predictions.

    Start LEADING.

    February 25, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh, I get now. It isn't about the betterment of the United States of America. It's about ruining President Obama's so called legacy. But will THAT work for GOPers any better than it did trying to make him a one term President?

    Cue the doom and the gloom and the haters and their Limbaughtic talking point rhetoric aimed at what exactly? More millions of dollars to line Limbaugh's pocketbook, to be sure. Beyond that? Nothing.

    February 25, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. The REAL Truth...

    @tim – You have a dem. senate dem. pres. he could stop this if he wanted to. its his fault.
    As was posted in another thread by someone... one should check one's facts before opening one's mouth and proving to the world what ones level of ignorance.

    Congress – that's BOTH the Senate AND the House have to PASS legislation BEFORE the POTUS can sign it. If the Senate introduces legislation to fold hte sequester, it WILL NOT PASS the Grand Obstructionist Party members of the House. The opposite is true of a Budget.. required to be initiated by the House. When that budget goes to the Dem Senate and is full of defense spending increase, anti-abortion and entitlement cutting riders, you seriously expect the Senate to vote on it ???? Please get educated...

    February 25, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. lovespandas

    Should have been working on this instead of trying to be a celebrity at the Oscars! What a shame to have to see Michelle on stage. She needs to be taught the rol of First Lady.

    RS – the republicans are NOT refusing to work with the whitehouse. Quite the contrary! Quit drinking the kookaid. You people have us in enough trouble as it is.

    February 25, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  14. rs

    The Sequester was written by the House GOP, passed by the House GOP. Remember? Boehner got 98% of what he wanted in the Sequester.

    February 25, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. WET

    Some of the posts in reply to this topic are revolting. I find it astounding how far people will go to see America fail, just so that they can be seen to have been on the right side of history. There is no 'right side of history' if you abandon your fellow citizens for some political principle.

    February 25, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair

    "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?"
    It's not the Republicans who "balmed" 4Q13 GDP weakness on DOD cuts... it's certifiable FACT sitting there in black and white. In fact, most Republicans pointed out that the left got EXACTLY what the wanted since FOREVER – defense cuts. The problem with the left is that they want what they want, but they want no part of the unintended consequences that inevitibly result. It's the left's way... blame, blame, blame.

    February 25, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. abmri60

    The pentagon is laying off 46.000 temporary employees.

    February 25, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  18. The REAL Truth...

    @William – too mcuh coolaid? The sequester is a direct result of the last Debt Ceiling negotiations 15 months (or so) ago. John Beohner exited those negotiations stating that he got "98% of what I wanted". In RETURN for letting the country move forward by raising the debt ceiling, the Teapugs go the sequester. This was NOT Obama's idea, but then the Faux Noise Entertainment channel probably told you it was.

    The POTUS has no control over gas prices.. if your go tyour information from somewhere other than Fox (who has said this themselves when Dubya was blamed for the highest average gas price on record in july 2008) you might know that.
    You can thank your Party for gays in the military and no jobs.. since the Teapugs have yet to pass a single jobs bill in 5 yrs.
    And.. if you do a little research you'd learn that Solyndra's "loan" was applied for under the Bush regime and approved shortly after Obama took office. In other words he had nothing to do with it...

    February 25, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. HarvTy

    For once I agree with Obama. These spending cuts did not have to happen IF HE WAS WILLING TO STOP CAMPAIGNING AND START LEADING!! Only those who have had the Liberal Lobotomy can't see that the Republicans are doing what the folks elected them to do – REIGN IN THE OUT OF CONTROL SPENDING IN WASHINGTON. Obama got his revenue with the fiscal cliff deal (Another Obama created crisis); now he needs to compromise with some real spending reduction.

    February 25, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  20. The REAL Truth...


    Stop your finger-pointing.
    Stop your threats.
    Stop your doomsday predictions.

    Start contacting your Right Wing Teapug representatives who have spent this country into economic ruin. Ask them to pass some budget's in the House that may be acceptable to the Senate. The GOP wanted this so badly.. now they can eat cake. Hope y'all like it down there in them red states like Goewjah, Missoura, Mississippy and Tejas (yes, the spelling is deliberate).

    February 25, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota


    The liberal panic is setting in because the freebies may have to stop.

    Funniest comment of the day. Honey, the only panic I see is a do nothing Republican controlled House of Representatives reaping what they sow by trying to disown and disavow four years of obstruction and budget cuts of their own making by trying to distract with their puny finger pointing childishness in the direction of "that one".

    You know. They guy they spent millions upon millions of dollars trying to defeat and destroy. To no avail.

    February 25, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  22. DENNA

    Of course these cuts don't have to happen, but the GOP are not about to let a chance like this pass them up. They do no care about America. These idiots are seriously still trying to make the president look bad. Hello! We the people reelcted him. Let it go.

    February 25, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. What1

    Please don't compromise. The best scenario is deep cuts. It will not hurt the economy. It will dip for 9 months and then the economy be even stronger in the next couple of years then it would have been otherwise. Cuts are good; too much spending is bad.

    February 25, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. Independent

    @Lynda/Minnesota.....WHAT legacy??? Obama did nothing his first 4 years and is doing so again, only pointing fingers!!!! The sign of a great leader is someone who can accept their flaws and take ownership of their failures, not pointing the finger at everyone else!!! The only thing Obama has done is pass some crappy health care bill that has caused my health care to go up double what it did the year before. Ya affordable care for everyone!!! LOL He got his tax increases it is TIME for SPENDING CUTS!!! You and many others on here are just brain washed zombies, Obama could go out and kill someone and you would still support him!!! (drone strikes anyone)

    February 25, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  25. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    The GOPT are whining about $85 billion in spending cuts??? Gee wiz, their Afghan/Iraq wars alone cost $5.5 Trillion. Their TARP bailout of Wall Street cost $1trillion and Bush Prescription Drug program $1 trillion.

    February 25, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
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