'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. Publix

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

    We certainly can't just spend our way to prosperity either, Mr. President.

    February 25, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  2. Larry L

    @sau sage

    First he blames Bush, then he blames the republicans, tomorrow he'll blame me for the economy.
    Bush started two unfunded wars with falsified intelligence data – fact.
    Over 4,500 Service-members died – fact. He cut taxes and reduced revenues while increasing spending – fact.
    Bush issued the first bailout package – fact.
    Over 8.5 million jobs were lost before President Obama took office – fact.
    Republicans planned to obstruct progress from the very first day – fact.
    Republicans in the Senate filibustered all initiatives including a proposal THEY CREATED! – fact.
    Every Republican bill from the house included toxic riders on "personhood" or other political theater – fact.

    Isn't "sausage" generally a pig's intestine filled with fat and low-grade meat?

    February 25, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  3. don in albuquerque

    When you spend four plus years embarking on a plan of sinking the President at peril of all else-Do you really think your going to have a happy outcome. Oh, and, they failed.

    February 25, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. The Mayor of Medinah

    Please clarify this for me was it not the President who proposed, and signed the sequester into law? Was he just kidding? Was he trying to call the Senates Bluff? Was he not smart enough to know that during an election year nothing would be done? ...... so many questions

    February 25, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  5. bawanadick

    every one know who the problem lies with ,,its the rethugs and their inability to work woth a black man,,,they have done more obstruction filibustering than has ever been done in the history of the us government,,,they wanted to make him a 1 term president,,,they weren;t going to pass a single bill and that is what they did,,,,even with the super pac's that are recognized as people thanks to the right wing led supreme court,,,,the pac's spent all that money on trying to oust the president and didn't do it,,,,,for me that about does it,,the people have spoken and it's time for the rethugs to relent and do the compromising and do the work they are pauid to do,,,thery are the legislators,,,where's the laws at for obama to sign,,,,,,,they are not doing their job and they will pay for their folly....i'm glad but not so to all that this will hurt ,,the little guy

    February 25, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  6. The Mayor of Medinah

    The elected congress is way to impudent to do anything that would have a true impact on America. I predict single digit approval rating for the whole bunch.

    February 25, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  7. The Mayor of Medinah

    I have not had a pay raise in more than 5 years, my taxes in one form or another have gone up every year.

    February 25, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. Guest

    We have obama on tape threatening congress that he will veto any attempt to stop the sequester. Don't you liberals care that this is the biggest hypocrit and liar to sit in the White House.

    February 25, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  9. Big_D

    The K-Street project for a permanent GOP majority has created systemic problem in the house of gerrymandered seats. We need to make gerrymandering illegal period.

    February 25, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  10. Bobbbb

    These cuts do need to happen and when they are done and acknowledged then hopefully their miniscule impact will prompt more cuts.

    February 25, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  11. Meki60

    President Garbage can now add 'chicken little' to his list of qualities

    February 25, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  12. Meki60

    Potus can now add 'chicken little' to his list of qualities

    February 25, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  13. SFRich

    Looks like a lot of stupid going on here today...

    Let's hope there's not much cut from the education funding. The future electorate needs critical thinking skills... something sorely missing in today's typical GOP leaning voter.

    February 25, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  14. OBG

    President Obama, chief executive of the United States of America, doesn't have the management skills to cut less than 3% from spending? Managers do that every day in the private sector. The president is proving his incompetence.

    February 25, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  15. rs

    The President of the United States is correct, all it would take is for Congress to undo their Sequester Bill. Of course THAT means compromise, and working with the President- something Republicans have essentially sworn not to do. Given that they can't even get their story straight about the Sequester ("It was Obama's idea"; "It's too small to do any good"; "It's too damaging"; "We have to do it")- but then again, it hurts the middle class and poor (something they like), and it keep the rich with virtually the lowest tax rates in a generation, so I am betting the GOP thinks we can do the Sequester and accomplish much of what they want.
    I think they're gambling on the anger against them- I figure 5 days and the GOP is done!

    February 25, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  16. Wes

    This guy is a pathological liar.

    February 25, 2013 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  17. thinksome1

    The second most mis-used word in reporting: massive. In this context, it is even more laughable than most. We are talking about 5%, right? Or less, actually. How can you refer to 1/20th as massive?

    The most mis-used word in repoting? Obviously.

    February 25, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  18. Redeye Dog

    Make up your mind Pres.... You have been quoted on video many times saying you would veto any attempt to NOT make them happen. No wonder there exists the impression that Congress cannot work together. Your leadership, or lack thereof, would confuse anyone on any level of child to scholar!!

    But really – tricks are for kids!!!

    February 25, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  19. Bill Davis

    He did always vote Present, and he is waiting for it to get better...
    Nothing wrong with hiring friends, makeing a few bad loans, and balming everyone else...
    Who needs a budget..We are her to buy a $47,000 Rolex, and have fun.

    February 25, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  20. Ancient Texan

    The drama queens are at it again; trying to threaten the bots that follow them into believing the sky is actually going to fall. Obama,.Biden, Napolitano, Lahood all screaming about the evil of slowing spending.

    February 25, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  21. don

    Obama, I voted for you, but it's time to stop issuing statements and parading around the country and sit down with these nuckle-heads and work something out. At last try.

    February 25, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. stanford_gal

    Obama thinks there's an endless supply of money. He is planning further extensive travel to about 100 cities, to campaign for his budget. What type of person travels when there is no money? Someone who is totally irresponsible with money. Take a math class Obama!

    February 25, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  23. g

    for thirty years politicians worked hard with CEO,S to ship manufacturing to cheaper labour countries now they ask why is unemployment so high and tax revenue low -and handing out tax breaks, funding endless need less wars –now they ask why–hang them all and start over

    February 25, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. bosco5601

    Why is anyone surprised ? Obama was never qualiified for this job. He has never had a real job. He has no understanding of the economy or how to run a business. How could anyone expect him to turn the largest economy in the world around. This is a chld in a man's world. So sad that Americans are so dazzled with his BS. Reagan said it best, Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago ?

    February 25, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  25. soshaljustic

    Well, well...the republican obstructionists are attempting to campaign to retake the white house thru the blame game of a failed economy by putting more upon the US citizen's backs playing their haves/haves not games through obstruction and denial of services. Cool, let her rip. Not one repub gets in the house next time around as we see during and after sequestration when the governors are going to have to nickel and dime through tax increases to make up federal funding losses to the states! Hehe. who loses but the schmuck citizen's not worried at all that they needed the monies at the downturn of the Bush era so the flood of money into a failed economy for wars and military spending resulted in stimulus money that all agreed upon. Here is the budget payback, but Congress cannot figure out how to reduce the hurt over time and over several differing less needed methods. No, Congress cannot find ways to cut differently and do not want to negotiate with the president so the sequester is ramrodded through to the citizen instead. Bend over people and start barking because the republican people you voted for are not doing the job, they are letting you take it.

    February 25, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
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