'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. Karen

    Mr. president, 49% of the American public did not vote for you-do not try to scare the 47% that did vote for you, the other 3% are Democrats (like myself) except they vote the party not the person. It is you, who has to come to the table and bring everyone together. Are you capable of doing so?

    February 25, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Tiz

    I mean you are the president of the United States, right......... the heck are you doing with your time? Figure it out and lead this country.... stop blaming everyone but yourself.... you act like my 2 year old....

    February 25, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. UDidntBuildThat

    Rudy NYC
    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. .... "
    So based on this I guess it wasn't all Bushs' fault to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq! Congress gave approval. Also this points out that even if Bush signed something into law, he could not do so without Congress. Wow! if it is not Obama's fault when he signed something into law how come it is all Bush's fault when he signed something into law? Hmmmmm??? The logic does not add up. but then again with a liberal there is no logic.

    February 25, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. critical thinking

    BTW, the emperior is not wearing any clothes.

    February 25, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. Rick in OP

    "These cuts do not have to happen."
    Yes they do have to happen. These cuts and a whole lot more have to happen. Otherwise we end up like that shining achievement of the Democratic Party: D E T R O I T.

    February 25, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. sifto

    If Obama cared about Americans, he would have told Americans what he was doing while the Americans at the embassy were being killed–Ironic that MO was announcing the award for "Argo" a true story of Canada rescuing people from the Iranian Embassy under seige...wonder if Obama knew what the movie was about? The Canadians cared.....

    February 25, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  7. Karen

    Obama, the 49% of the Americans who did not vote for you know it is a shame that you are trying to scare the 47% that did, the other 3% (are Democrats, like myself) except they vote the party instead of the person. It is time you take responsibility for the job you were hired to do. You are the one that needs to bring everyone together, are you capable of doing so?

    February 25, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    This guy is killing this Country. He is a pathological Liar!

    February 25, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Nick

    The cuts do have to take place. You can't indefinitely keep borrowing 40 cents of every dollar you spend. You offered the idea, you signed it, you own it. Instead of exercising some discretion over the last year to find cuts you have chosen instead to make us suffer. You are not our king – you work for us, though you never operated your administration in any way that acknowledges that.

    February 25, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. 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

    Rudy NYC
    Did you ever take Civics in the 5th grade? All revenue bills must originate in the House.

    I guess you never took one either. The Repulicans granted Obama his early re-election gift to avoid having to extend the debt ceiling in the middle of the election campaign. For this he agree to this sequester to show he was willing to cut spending.

    This bill was PASSED by a Democrat controled Senate and SIGNED into law by the very imblecile that now wants to blame everybody else. If it was such a bad idea

    You overlook the most fundamental facts. House Republicans wrote the bill.
    But DEMOCRATS controll two thirds of the government and NOTHING happens (we know this all too well) without them voting for it and signing it into law. Amazing how Democrats ALWAYS refuse to accept responsibility for their ideas and actions and everything is always somebody else fault. You are a bunch of 5 year olds.

    And Boehener bragged about "no compromise" and that he got 98% of what he wanted past an Obama veto, mainly because it was too late to vote on anything else.
    Boehner was referring to the 98% of Americans that were protected from a tax increase. He wanted to protect 100% from the increase but Obama got his hundreds of billions in new taxes. And here he is again, barely two months later expecting MORE, on top of those taxes and all the Obmacare taxes. It is clear there is simply NO END to Obama and the Democrats demands for more and more of our paycheck. You will not be happy until you take 70-80% of it and we are all on government food stamps.

    February 25, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. wade

    Obama is such a hypocrite and liar! The sequester was his IDEA of course they have to happen because he refuses to CUT spending. How else will we ever cut the dam spending.? Obama is the worst thing ever to happen to America even worse many times worse than Bush or Carter.

    February 25, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. Wilson

    Let the sequester happen, if that is the only way to reduce spending. Though in reality most of the sequester cuts are reductions in future spending. No real changes to current spending.

    February 25, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. just sayin

    why would obama starve and hurt little kids and endanger the american people instead of cutting some of the hundreds of billions of waste, fraud and abuse they are always talking about cutting?

    oh yeah, all that money goes to his toady union supporters and crooks that contribute to his campaign and expect government money in return.

    February 25, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC


    Rudy NYC
    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. .... "

    So based on this I guess it wasn't all Bushs' fault to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq! Congress gave approval. Also this points out that even if Bush signed something into law, he could not do so without Congress.
    Dude, not only did you miss the boat, you showed up at the train station. A Declaration of War has nothing to do with a revenue related bill. BTW, Republicans controlled both chambers and the White House when both of those wars were voted in by the Congress. Trust me, you really do not want to go into the reasons why we entered into those wars. You will lose.

    February 25, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |

    Not one democrat voted for the sequester every single Republican did,how in the hell does this administration own this ?
    As usual Republicans with their altered reality attempting to foist it upon America. When will we collectively learn that they are a bunch of liars period.

    February 25, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. Joe Wilson - Republican Rep. South Carolina

    mike Lake Orion Michigan
    This guy is killing this Country. He is a pathological Liar!

    I tried to warn you all years ago. But you refused to listen. Now we are all screwed.

    February 25, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Patsy Ward

    Sooooo....when we go into sequestor come Friday.....lets not hear any whining from the righteous right....right??? I tend to vote conservative on most things.....but the BS going on the halls of Congress is beyond any thing I have seen in my 60 years.....may have to change my party after all.

    February 25, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. beware123

    Two Parties (Republican & Democrat) can't agree *supposedly" on anything. Obama wants more taxes--first it was 1% of the wealthiest--then it became 2% of the wealthiest-–now he wants to tax more of the wealthiest. Obama has the option to choose what Department anywhere-anything to cut. Like--this past week-end Obama flew to Florida-at a cost of $180,000 per hour to fly just the plane--plus, any other planes on the trip. Obama paid $1000 an hour for private golf lessons--then Michelle Obama and her children went to Aspen--a very expensive week-end. I don't come down on the trip on Michelle enjoying the week-end with her children. But over a MIILLIION DOLLARS + the cost to fly the planes down to Florida-private golf lessons. Where can we cut? THE EXPENSES OF THE WHITE HOUSE-FLYING FROM STATE TO STATE--overseas--and the Senators and House Representatives taking trips abroad to stay abreast of what is going on!

    Merkel in Germany was faced with tough cuts-where did she start her cuts--on limos for the officials--planes grounded without a GOOD JUST CAUSE-no fancy things or luxuries for the officials! Now WHY AREN'T CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE AND TRAVEL EXPENSES BE LIMITED--Obama has spent more on traveling-than any other President.

    Obama has a choice to cut expenses from his extra ONE MILLION EMPLOYEES to launch Obama Care-and IRS employees to design a system which will tell the Govt if you are insured or not insured as you file your taxes! I condemn the REPUBLICANS for not BRINGING up HOW MUCH THEY SPEND--THEIR LIMOS--Why isn't CONGRESS LOOKING IN THEIR OWN BACK YARD-instead of looking at the military-the elderly–air traffic controllers-Well, LOOK AT CONGRESS (Both Parties) to look what they can 535 members PLUS THE WHITE HOUSE just might turn things around.

    February 25, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. What1

    The Tea Party is pushing spending cuts. The Tea Party has never added to the debt. The Tea Party was formed to reduce spending.

    February 25, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. eskimo1

    Really? Raise taxes again? My taxes just increased in January. So what if it was the end of the Bush program. My taxes still went up. Why don't you spend our hard earned taxpayer money more frugally Mr. President? I can gaurantee beyond the shadow of a doubt that if you raise taxes we will not see a dent in the mess you've put is in. You'll only spend more and try to grab more.

    February 25, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. Susan

    The American people need jobs to improve the budget !!! I feel two things need to happen. First the gas prices need to be lowered. Second, the blue collar-man needs to be back. The few "privilege" who send their manufacturing over seas need to bring the work back to America!! If they do , then give them a tax break. It will all even out. It will create new jobs , unemployment will decrease, taxes will be coming in to the government by the workers, and the economy will increase for all. Which all around will create more jobs!!!

    February 25, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. Marcus

    bring on the sequester – and now. really, a 2.5% cut in the overall budget – with most going to military spending – $43B out of $85B – what's bad about it? oh, that's right, any cut or slow down in increasing spending (called a cut iin washington) is bad to a democrat (and a lot of republicans for that matter). what a joke.

    February 25, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. NickAnast

    "I got 98% of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy." - John Boehner, speaking on national television after the Sequester bill passed Congress. Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Paul Ryan all voted for the Sequester. Boehner even touted the benefits of the Sequester in a presentation to his GOP caucus to persuade them to support it. Now he is going around the country complaining that the Sequester would be a disaster, but refuses to compromise and refuses to offer any specific alternatives.

    President Obama, meanwhile, has offered an alternative that would provide $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases, but since the GOP House won't pass it, the Senate will vote on a Dem proposal that would reduce this year's deficit by $108 billion - more than the Sequester would - by providing $54 billion in tax increases and $54 billion in spending cuts. And the GOP's response? "The president has no plan! He's not leading!" The GOP doth protest too much.

    February 25, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. Buddha808

    I'm sorry but a decress in the increase in projected future spending is not a spending cut

    February 25, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Wilson

    We finally found an instance in which Obama administration numbers add up. Unfortunately, we mean it literally - they really add UP. In 2009 - or, as we call it, the Early Dark Ages - newly elected Barack Obama claimed that his $800 billion stimulus would reduce the number of Americans living in poverty by two million. Specifically, he promised his plan would "help poor and working Americans pull themselves into the middle class in a way we haven't seen in nearly 50 years." Besides being dead wrong on that account, in the first two years of Obama's presidency, the number of Americans living in poverty rose by 2.6 million. According to the Census Bureau in 2009, 43.6 million Americans were living below the poverty line. Jump ahead to 2011 and the number climbs to 46.2 million.
    And that's not all. During the same period, the number of Americans on food stamps rose from 31.9 million to more than 47.6 million, which, as CNS News points out, represents a 49.3 percent increase and brings the number of food-stamp recipients in the U.S. to more than the entire population of Spain.
    In many cases, numbers "adding up" is a good thing, but when they add up to nearly 50 million Americans living in poverty under this administration, there's nothing good about that.

    February 25, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
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