'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)

    Let the cuts take place. The fact is government spending needs to STOP for all socialist programs.

    Notice to all takers.

    Time to get a job. The free ride is over.

    February 25, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    O' and by the way, the Clinton surplus the GOP squandered – $230 billion.

    February 25, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    The REAL Truth wrote:

    ....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. ....
    Article 1, Section 7

    "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills. .... "

    And then it goes to define the general procedures for passing bills and the veto process. This article has become generally accepted to include any bills that spend revenue must originate in the House. The Senate work around is to pass a bill, send it to the House which passes it, then the Senate must pass the bill but without any further modifications before it can go to the POTUS for signing.

    February 25, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. me

    obama iis a joke If he was serious he would have been working WITH tthe congress and senate moonths ago instead of waiting till tthe last minute. Itiis all theatre and hype with him. manufacture a crisis and capittolize on it. he should be indited

    February 25, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  5. JP

    They aren't even cuts! They are just stopping planned increases in those budgets. It's all smoke and mirrors. We can certainly handle $85B in "cuts" from a $3+TRILLION budget...

    February 25, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    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.
    My poor Fair has Romnesia. You even posted about it, blaming the cuts on Democrats and the poor GDP. I recall pointing out the entire hypocrisy of the GOP suddenly arguing that spending cuts hurt GDP.

    February 25, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh, and by the way. What's happening within the Grand Old Party, GOPers? It's obvious. It's distasteful. It's cowardly. And, it IS NOT a way to run a major political party in the year 2012, and still expect to be taken seriously - let alone relevant.

    Any questions? Look to who is highlighting and headlining the up and coming CPAC and then ask YOURSELVES, Consevatives, where it all went wrong.

    Stubborn is as stubborn does.

    February 25, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. Den-O

    Obama is so busy, yet again, to realize that the idea for the cuts came from his White House in the first place. The reason we are at this point is because the GOP compromised with him and agreed to this. Now he says, or tap dances, that if the GOP would just "compromise" we wouldn't have this situation. It's all their fault. Perhaps if Obama could of managed to ever present a realistic budget in the first place....we wouldn't be in this situation. He needs to man up and start taking some responsibility instead of blaming the GOP and hiding behind his press secretary all the time.

    February 25, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. Louis Green Bay

    I can't believe all these liberal comments blaming the Republicans. They can go back and see Obamas speech where he stated "I will veto any attempt by the congress to stop the sequester cuts!" Why do you people pretend this didn't happen? Why do you pretend that Obama isn't doing a chicken little imitation every time he wants something.
    Put down the cup of kool aid and wake up.

    February 25, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. DENNA

    @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)
    Riiigght. The GOP have been sooooo responsible and caring. Please, please stop pretending that Barack Obama is a bad President. He is a great president saddled with a horrible Congress. These people don't work, they sit around plotting the downfall of the President and by extension, the downfall of America. I cannot believe that they actually would rather let America go up in flames rather than cooperate with the President. Wow. Just . . . wow.

    February 25, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. Pete

    Pres.Obama just throwing the sequester in the republicans face knowing when they approved it sending it to his desk for signature it'd never go this far figuring as usual democrates would cave to their agenda of keeping tax breaks for the 1% and other nonsense.But quess what republicans this president is playing hardball now and its your party that'll suffer the most at midterms and with your partys rating in single digits you're basicly in a boat without the paddles aren't yah morons!!

    February 25, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota


    You're wasting your time on me. I'm well past my years in trying out for your silly sandbox soap box shuffle moves.

    February 25, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. Smeagel4T

    America can no longer afford all the tax cuts and loopholes corporations have legally bribed congress to give them. Corporations have been stealing workers wages for over 30 years now leaving middle and working class incomes stagnant while top executives continuously gave themselves massive 6 and 7 figure raises. Now that there is no more wage income to steal from the working and middle classes, the mega-rich Astroturf Supergroup "Campaign to Fix the Debt" funded by Pete Peterson now wants workers to give up their Social Security and Medicare so they can pocket those dollars as well. Until you're groveling around in the dirt trying to find any breadcrumbs they've dropped just so you can eat, they're sure you have more wealth they can steal from you.

    February 25, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. Hcall

    More divisiveness..You have to admit he is good at it..Fellow countrymen saying a lot of mean things about each other is what he wants.

    February 25, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  15. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Let's do the Arithematic...

    The spending cuts in question geared towards preserving American jobs and lives, strenghtening our infrastructure and safeguarding our national security – $85 Billion.

    The Afghan and Iraqi wars that have done nothing but compromised our national security even more and taken the lives of thousands of our troops and logistic workers??? $5.5 Trillion.

    February 25, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Den-O wrote:

    Obama is so busy, yet again, to realize that the idea for the cuts came from his White House in the first place.
    Whoa, Den-O. Stop it right there. How can Pres. Obama be "so busy" when the right wing narrative has always been that he been a "do nothing" president who gets nothing done.

    February 25, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. critical thinking

    Mr. President how about more vocation to the job and less vacation from it.

    February 25, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. Lou50

    still trying to scare the sheeples, well those are the 50.6% that voted for you and being certified fools they are to out of it to be scared. I am sure taking away child care from 2000 people in California will make a big dent. Why not lay off 500,000 Federal employees tomorrow and see where that takes us!

    February 25, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Just let the cuts go into effect. America would benefit in the long run when every teapublican is send packing.

    February 25, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. Tiz

    Whenever you are ready to be a leader, Mr. President.... the country is ready...

    February 25, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Why not lay off 500,000 Federal employees tomorrow and see where that takes us!"

    Oh, goody. We take them off one government "dole" only to put them back on a different government "dole". That logic simply amazes.

    February 25, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. UDidntBuildThat

    Rudy NYC- Once again the facts are NOT ON YOUR side!!!Exactly when has this president followed any of the rules. It was Obama that created with Jack Lew the idea of Sequestration. It was Obama who pitched it to Harry Ried and the Dems controlling the Senate. It was Harry Ried who passed it in the Senate and gave to the HOuse and the House made several objections but went along b/c time was running out. No matter how u wish to revise history to make Obama look good and blame the Repubs, even CNN themselves reported these facts. Obama controls 2/3rds of the legislative branch. That is the WH and the Senate. Obama signed it into law. So blaming 1/3rd of the legislative branch is dishonest and is a testimony to your lack of education, and wilful ignorance on what is going on.

    February 25, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  23. UDidntBuildThat

    DENNA-Riiigght. The GOP have been sooooo responsible and caring.
    If Obama cared soooooo much and was sooooo responsible, then why did he put the 1st responders, education, and all the cuts fr the Sequestration into play in the 1st place? Why would caring Obama gambled with so many people's lives? If Obama cared so much for the average folks why did he raise their taxes by signing it int law. Remember no one making under $250K will see their taxes go up"? What about the poverty rate? If Obama cared so much why has it gone up and stayed up for over 4 yrs???Gas prices too? How about median household income going down under obama? Obama says he cares but takes care of his rich friends like Tiger, Buffet, and Wall Street. While the little folks continue to get shafted.

    February 25, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. PeteH

    Same BS, different day/month/year...

    February 25, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  25. yep

    I support Obama however we need some cuts as well as revenue. His own words, "Balanced Approach". Well then where are the cuts? You got some revenue increases Mr. President so it's time to balance it with some cuts right? Or was that just talk? It's obvious that this congress has not and will not work with each other so IMO these cuts should just go through. It may be a little tough but it's necessary. And all these complaints about programs being shut down and people being hurt, yep, absolutely true. But that wouldn't be a problem if our Government would get some oversight and stop all the waste. At the end of every fiscal year it's like a race to spend all the money you have so you get the same ammount or more next year. There is no fiscal responsibility in ANY department of the government. So now it's come to this and I say more power to it! Time to stop passing the buck to the next generation and take some responsibility for what has already been done!

    February 25, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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