'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. Bill

    Not only do these cuts need to happen, many more need to be identified and initiated asap. By the way Mr. Obama...it's been four plus years and I still haven't figured out what you have been doing with your time. Do you think you could take some time our of your busy schedule running for office and lead the people in Washington?

    February 25, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. sau sage

    First he blames Bush, then he blames the republicans, tomorrow he'll blame me for the economy. It's everybody's fault but his. Best president ever.

    February 25, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. Moose

    As usual rudy is using his back side for brains, what a dork

    February 25, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. critical thinking

    This President wanted the job but not the responsibility..typical.

    February 25, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. nathalie from pa

    IIm so regretful for voting Obama in he is nothing of what he claim he is. What is so funny I never read his agenda or even the Obama care bill at that I was so happy as a African american to have a black president I didn't look for anything else and now I feel like a sheet was held over me and the millions of Americans who thought the same way. \Obama is a puppet like the rest we all now The "federal" reserve owns this country and us. Take time out to read article 1003 of obamacare , also be warned of the ww3 obama will let his puppet masters create in order to keep the monetary system in effect when oil can only be brought for gold and not the "almighty dollar'. WAKE UP PEOPLE!! He wants to take away our 2nd amendment

    February 25, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  6. Barak Hussein Obama

    You know, this job stinks when you can't play Santa Claus and have to actually do something difficult. Is it time for another vacation? I'm exhausted.

    February 25, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. Cal Newlan

    We must pray for President Obama.

    February 25, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. Poleski

    Hey Obama is right. He said. “These cuts do not have to happen. “
    He could cut some of the thousands of stupid spending things but no. He has to hurt the American People so he can blame the Republicans. No morals, no heart. Let them eat cake.
    Instead we get cuts to “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.
    cuts in the pre-kindergarten program, "Head Start," Hundreds of thousands, he added, will lose access to primary care and preventative care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings. Companies are preparing layoff notices. Families are preparing to cut back on expenses.
    Think about it all you fools that voted for this twerp.

    February 25, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. anoel2005

    Oblamer uses imaginary issues to beat the Republicans with. That's all he cares about.

    Oblamer stretches the truth as far as he can. We all remember "shovel ready" jobs, "saved and created" jobs, etc.

    Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is the same ( or worse) than when he took office. What a joke this administration is.

    February 25, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. grumblesfromthegrave

    Let's do a reality-check here: how is it "massive" cuts when they total less than FOUR PERCENT of the Federal budget?

    What will it be like when we cut FORTY percent, in order to get spending in line with revenues (and a little left over to pay DOWN our outrageous $16 Trillion debt)?

    Talk about your "Chicken Little" approach to the news....GET REAL!!!

    February 25, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. Alex

    Obama is a thug. We are going down. Spending will rise in every area but defense and he acts like its a cut. When is the American public going to WAKE UP.

    February 25, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. PatheticCNN

    President Obama looks miserable as Congress doesn't listen to him. He nned s to stop campaining style and roll up his sleevs and start Governing like a Leader then only Congress will listen to him.

    February 25, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  13. Catherine

    Enough. When are Americans going to start seeing through this man? The Republicans are their own sorry mess, but they're right to call out this president as the Permanent Candidate. Obama is simply incapable of the grinding, slogging, down-in-the-trenches interaction with Congress that his predecessors took for granted. More and more, I see him as a fraud – a shiny, glittering package that turns up empty on closer examination. We have to stop giving Barack Obama a pass.

    February 25, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  14. us_1776

    GOP/TEA and their debt-ceiling nonsense are at the bottom of all of this.

    If they hadn't started that idiotic nonsense in the first place and ended up damaging the US credit rating, we wouldn't even be here dealing with indiscriminate cuts.


    February 25, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota


    I really don't like the money flowing from either side of the aisle. I never will like it

    Yes, it must be tough to see your illusions burst so easily when you realize you have been conned by another corrupt Chicago politician. To know that not only doesn't he walk on water as you believed, but sells his country out for money. Let me know where I can send the sympathy card.

    Oh, darn. You didn't like my post. No problem... just send the card special delivery in care of Karl Rove. He'll understand if you send it collect on delivery.

    February 25, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. anoel2005

    Since the private sector shrinks as a consequence of the govt. ballooning, what hope do our kids have when their future looks like that of Greece?

    February 25, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. sau sage

    Tsk tsk..Obama didn't have to happen – Americans

    February 25, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. uncdig

    obama talking about compromise – what a hoot! Won't take much to find the waste – several citizen groups have already identified almost a trillion a year in wasteful or duplicative agencies. Why don't they just get the reports & start at the top.

    February 25, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  19. sally-ann

    Boehner is one creepy, dude. Really. There is something seriously wring with these repuibklicans

    February 25, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  20. Dean

    Obama could solve the problem by resigning.

    February 25, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  21. SeattleMM

    Cuts need to happen, but not this way – and President Obama would be the first to say that. Congressional Republicans will do anything to hurt this President, even if it hurts the country. They have no conscience, no scruples and no business holding public office!

    February 25, 2013 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. Anne P

    As if it isn't obvious that the majority of these posts are phoney diatribes created by GOP'ers/TP'ers likely all sitting in the same room. Nice try, but total BS.

    February 25, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  23. The REAL Truth...

    The incredible ignorance of basic Government process and lack of intelligence displayed by some posters here is dismaying at best.. astounding at worst. The WH does NOT decide what gets cut.. that is the job of the Congressional offices that put the legislation in place. When our future looks like that of Greece you'll have seen the direct result of austerity measures put in place to stem the economic tide caused by the right wing.

    If you haven't figured out what Obama has been doing over the last four years, please get out from under your rock and try reading.. you would then learn that the Grand Obstructionist Party has put Party first and Country 2nd!! The have filibustered, blocked and submitted legislation that it unacceptable, and you are buying it all. Anything to make Obama look bad, and now the sequester is all his fault. Look around folks.. he was ELECTED TWICE by the people.. NOT THE SCOTUS. Try taking off the gloves and working with the Dem's.. it MIGHT help the country.

    February 25, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  24. mcwreiole

    Best actor in a drama...and the winner is President Barack Obama.

    February 25, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  25. emma

    Why blame Obama?. Whatever Obama may have done, it probably was a strategy to get some reasonable and serious action by the GOP. We rely on the Congress to enact laws, based on what Americans want them to do.. Th GOP simply is not doing their job. They seem to not value the notion of democracy if it dilutes their power.

    February 25, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
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