February 26th, 2013
02:34 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama: Cuts are a 'self-inflicted wound'

(CNN) - With the clock ticking, President Barack Obama traveled to military country Tuesday to boost pressure on Congress, saying the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to begin Friday could deliver a tremendous blow to the nation's economy and defense.

"These cuts are wrong. They're not smart. They're not fair. They're a self inflicted wound that doesn't have to happen," Obama said at a campaign-style event at the site of a major defense shipbuilding contractor in Newport News, Virginia.

If Congress fails to come up with an alternative plan by Friday's deadline, the federal government will be forced to slash its budget by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, with $85 billion being cut in the next seven months, alone.

Using a firm tone, Obama cautioned the audience that their jobs, along with hundreds of thousands of others, are "currently in jeopardy because of politics in Washington." The Obama administration has ratcheted up warnings about the reductions in the last few weeks, using Cabinet secretaries and campaign-style events to alert the public on the potential impact of the automatic cuts.

Lawmakers have discussed a proposal that would give the executive branch the authority and flexibility to amend the cuts so that they're "smarter" and more targeted on wasteful spending rather than spread out evenly across the board.

Obama, however, said Tuesday he's not interested in that idea.

"The problem is, when you're cutting $85 billion in seven months...there's no smart way to do that," he said.

The president spoke in front of a large ship propeller, one of four for a new aircraft carrier being built at the shipyard. A division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding has a supplier base in all 50 states, many of which are small businesses that rely solely on the company for their business.

In a letter to the president last week, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell laid out the potential impact that the spending cuts could have on defense-heavy Virginia, including a loss of about 82,000 direct jobs at federal agencies and contractors and an additional 82,000 indirect jobs. Northern Virginia would absorb more than 60% of the losses, Hampton Roads about 20% and Richmond about 12 percent, McDonnell wrote.

He added that the looming reductions are already having an adverse effect on the commonwealth and, when fully implemented, could force it and other states into a recession.

At issue is how to postpone or replace the spending cuts, known in Washington as the sequester. Obama and Democrats want to pass a bill that includes a mix of targeted cuts with an increase in taxes through the closing of certain loopholes for the wealthy. Republicans, however, say taxes are off the table.

"He's gotten his tax hikes," House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday, referring to the-end-of-the-year fiscal cliff bill that raised tax rates on top earners. "It's time to focus on the real problem here in Washington and that is spending."

Republicans are also quick to point out that the White House was the first to float the spending cuts idea in 2011 as a way to incentivize lawmakers to come up with a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan.

But the White House argues the cuts were intended to be so dreadful and unwanted, that they were never supposed to happen. Obama argued Congress failed in coming up with legislation to prevent the cuts, saying too many Republicans refuse to compromise "even an inch" on tax loopholes and tax breaks.

It's time, he said, that they meet him in the middle.

"I've run my last election," he said. "I'm not interested in spin. I'm not interested in playing a blame game. At this point, all I'm interested in is just solving problems."

The president urged the audience to contact their members of Congress and call on them to act.

"I need you, Virginia, to keep up the pressure," he said. "I need you to keep up the effort. I need you to keep up the fight. If you do, Congress will listen."

- CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: Debt • Deficit • President Obama • Virginia
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. USA Under Attack

    Self inflicted by your failed leadership and misguided direction for the nation.

    February 26, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. much thunder.little rain

    your idea sir...

    February 26, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. just sayin

    "These cuts are wrong. They're not smart. They're not fair. They're a self inflicted wound that doesn't have to happen," Obama said at a campaign-style event at the site of a major defense shipbuilding contractor in Newport News, Virginia.
    then why did you propose them and sign them into law? you stupid or somethin'??? why did you do this to the country and the military? do you know what you are doing?

    February 26, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Voters should think about the federal subsidies oil companies receive while pumping gas at record high prices. Republcian/Tea Party politicians are for sequestration so that their 1% wealthiest friends like oil companies with record profits can keep their tax loop holes. Getting rid of tax loop holes is NOT a tax hike.

    February 26, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    More damage by the gop party of stupid and the stupid voters that support the idiots !!!!!

    February 26, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Liberal&Proud

    Stay strong Mr. President!! These clowns think that the federal government is just DC. When Uncle Ray who works as a GS-5 gate guard at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri is laid off....then they might realize that the middle class is seriously being hurt while they protect corporate loopholes......

    February 26, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  7. damnyankee

    "I wish for you the courage to defy political theater. We the People have become a willing audience to made-for-TV law making – watching national policy unfold like a scripted story line, because that's just what it is. You are the heirs of a governing machine that churns out poll-tested, packaged policy with politically correct labeling – and a media all to willing to market it for free.

    "Whatever shade matches the national mood, it becomes the law of the land. Our Founding Fathers would hardly recognize this federal spectacle of posturing, scripting, and staging. I wish for you the courage to call it what it is. Political correctness is just Tyranny with manners..."

    Charlton Heston before the Arizona Legislature,
    Jan 11, 2000.

    February 26, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. rla

    Obama your the problem along with the big government policies so stop acting like you actually know something

    February 26, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. CryBabies

    You threatened it, you pushed it and now you disown it. Quit your BS propaganda tour, roll up your sleeves and meet in person with the players. You people need to forget the sound bites and get to work! Lame, lame, lame!

    February 26, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  10. freedom

    "I've run my last election." Really?? Everyone is getting very tired of hearing this president scream, threaten, warn, campaign and manipulate. He doesn't know what he's doing or how to govern. And the last thing he's doing is trying to work with everyone in congress. "The red states, the blue states, the ......" Almost half the country knows what he's all about – it would be great if the other half started realizing the truth about this president and his damaging agenda.

    February 26, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. The Mayor of Medinah

    Well the current administration has had over 4 years to come up with a budget, but did they? No they did not, so the donkeys brought this upon themselves, in fact the sequester was the brain child of our new Secretary of the Treasury, who is an ex Citibank employee who got a nice golden parachute bonus for leaving if he was able to secure a hi level government job. So who is giving it to who, it appears that the Messiah’s follower will believe what ever the chosen one tells them weather it be true, beneficial or not.

    February 26, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    The most idiotic horrible congress I have ever known with my wisdom. It needs Term-Limits. Pass.

    February 26, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  13. The Mayor of Medinah

    Less than 6/10's of one percent is the ammount of the sequester.... is this realy that tragic?

    February 26, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  14. The Mayor of Medinah

    The donkeys are good at doing nothing and blame everyone but them selves

    February 26, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    ""I've run my last election," he said. "I'm not interested in spin. I'm not interested in playing a blame game. At this point, all I'm interested in is just solving problems.""

    Game. Set. Match. Now watch how many GOPers/Teatrolls still don't realize he just won the blame war they started in their desperate attempt to turn causing a 2nd recession into a win-win for themselves.

    February 26, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  16. Ind.

    If cutting 2% is going to shut down the country we're in bigger trouble than anyone can even imagine.

    Stop the fear mongering Obama.

    February 26, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. Ind.

    Obama's economy.

    If he can't compromise he deserves what he gets. Obama's fault.

    February 26, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  18. Name lynn

    The sky is falling, the budgets cuts may or may not fall.

    February 26, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. Ray E. (Georgia)

    We need fiscal responsibiilty. Not getting it from the Liberal's. Everybody need to balance their budget. After the Sequester, you can beg for your supper.

    February 26, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. Ind.

    You add $6 Trillion to the debt and you own the economy Obama.

    February 26, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. rvoter

    He should take up being a movie star after this performance.

    February 26, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. Tony

    Obama assumed that Republicans won't be stupid enough to force cuts that are (1) unpopular, (2) too small to have a real impact on the deficits, (3) not directed toward the entitlements (meaning Social Security and Medicare), and (4) directed against the military (Republicans actually want an increase in military spending). Obama assumed wrong. If Obama gives Republicans the options of shooting themselves in the head or in the foot (Republicans can try to force unpopular cuts and get blamed by the public, or they can succeed in forcing unpopular cuts and get blamed by the public), Republicans will choose both.

    February 26, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. 2014 Voter

    Thanks president Obama to sticking by your promise to fight for the middle class.
    It sad that the republican whether see our country fail because they dont like Obama.
    Remember we going to make sure the republican party be voted out of the office.
    Boehner and Cantor, Mcconnell will not be elected in 2014 we going to vote all you guys out of the office.
    Republican you lost the white house 2012 because you going agianst middle class.
    VOTE all the republican out in 2014

    February 26, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. mike vignapiano

    The ignorant (not meant as an insult, but many only listen to wat the news reports) will blame the GOP. The inteligent will blame the DEMS and the President. But truthfully, it is Obama's fault. He was aware of this, but did nothing. The GOP compromised TWICE before. But still Obama did nothing. He boasts about some cuts already, which is false.
    If I get credit for $10,000 and then just spend $7,000, tht is NOT cutting $3,000 of debt, like he is trying to claim. He does not negotiate. Instead he whines to the public and blames the GOP for the issues he has caused.

    February 26, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. Walker

    All his idea. If Obama would quit gallivanting through the country campaigning and get back to Washington there might be a solution. But it’s too much for us to expect for Obama to work with his puppet Reid in the Senate to do his JOB. He takes his cues from the campaigner.

    February 26, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
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