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. Barney

    Big problems don't happen over night. It takes years and years of bad policy, decision making, and culture to get to where we are right now. If you smoke 4 packs of cigarettes a day for 20 years it is pretty much inevitable that you will get cancer. The USA has cancer right now because we kept pushing off real solutions for short term gains. The only solution to getting healthy again is to begin a very painful regiment of chemo. Budget cuts have to happen. However, it isn't that they have to happen, it is WHERE the cuts are going to occur. They must make an agreement to only cut certain places, but they can't because everyone has a stakeholder and is in the corporate bed. So, cuts will have to happen across the board because this is the only way we can begin to become a health nation again. Short term we will suffer. Long term we will be stronger than ever. CHARACTER, MORALS, INTEGRITY, AND HONOR HAVE LONG SINCE DISAPPEARED FROM OUR SO CALLED "LEADERS". There are no brave leaders anymore. Outside of Ron Paul and Jesse Ventura, nobody strives for righteousness in terms of standing up for what is right to fix our country. It is shameful. And by the way, we are spending $711B on defense when the next closest country, China, only spends about $140B. There's maybe $350B we could save every year right? Oh year, I forgot, our arrogance makes us truly believe that we have to police the entire world.....or maybe it's that we simply want to run it. Either way, it's ridiculous.

    February 26, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. kh23489076

    20000+ border patrol agents are looking at a 40% pay cut. That will affect housing, banking, and a whole lot more.

    How will creditors deal with this situation? Party politics will ruin many people in this country until someone (usually the president) gets off their high horse and starts leading....Bringing people (congress) together and start working on the problems that face this country.

    In case anyone is forgetting, this budget crisis is for FY 13, almost halfway over now. In a few months we have to deal with a FY 14 budget.

    But hey like Obama said, I don't have to run for re-election, all he has to do is sit in the white house or go on tour and not do any real leading at all.

    February 26, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. Barney

    Also, nothing is ever as it seems. It's up to the citizenry to step up our knowledge of the issues and make some noise!!!!

    February 26, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. TommyGuns

    se·ques·ter – A general cut in government spending. NOT revenue/tax increase or tax loop hole closure.
    OBAMA HATES AMERICA.... Why can't people see that!

    February 26, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Republicans are simply trying to make the name "Obama" as toxic in 2014 and 2016 as the name "Bush" was in 2008.

    February 26, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. gijames1225

    It is pretty incredible how committed the government is to never reducing the deficit or trying to act with a shred of responsibility.

    February 26, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. Alice

    If this were a business he would be fired for being irresponsible, instigating unsafe practices, having no business sense and not being able to do his job. A leader has to be able to work with all types of people to come to a solution for the common good. Apparently President Obama can only do his work in front of cameras using scare tactics, this is not leading this is bullying and a sorry attempt. The cuts over a 10 year period are 1.5T compared to the budget of 50T. Maybe if some unsafe/hard cuts are being implemented March 1, they should bring some of our people home from countries like Libya and others we do not need to be in. and now it looks like we all will be adding our suggestions, too bad our leaders who get PAID for this can not figure it out

    February 26, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. Wake up People!

    All the typical RWNJ's are out in full force today. I still remember a smug drunk looking Boehner bragging that he got 98% of what he wanted.....

    Bye, bye rethuglikkkans, this is your death knell.

    February 26, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Enough is Enough

    Mr. President I must have missed the announcement regarding any hiring freeze and the cancelling of government travel. This is the first thing that a private sector company would do. What do you do say families will miss their vacation because airports will close and that lives will be endangered. You caused this problem by failing to negioate any budget cuts in good faith. One of our previous President's said the buck stops here. All you can do is blame others for your lack of leadership.

    February 26, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Wilson


    "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.
    The other half of the country won't get it until they run out of our money.

    February 26, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Obama assumed that Republicans won't be stupid enough...."

    Oh, I dunno about that. It might just as easily be a classic case of rope a dope. It was entirely 100% predictable that, if "armageddon" were put in writing and defined, the GOP/Teatrolls would attempt to find a way to trigger it and blame it all on Obama. WE told them that it wasn't a bola tie they were slipping around their necks, but they wouldn't listen, so now they're on their tippy toes hoping Obama will cave if they continue to play chicken and thereby give the rope some slack. NOT THIS TIME, FOOLS.

    February 26, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. JustAO

    Why do we always have to go through this with GOP? They win the message war early in the theoretical stage due to how incredibly simple and single-minded it is. But once reality hits, everyone runs over to the dems argument and even the GOP do what the dems wanted in the first place.

    GOP policies don't help our society, they hurt it becaue their policies are exclusionary and self-centered in nature and don't promote community involvement or the greater-good of our society philosophy.

    February 26, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. Rick in OP

    I do not work for the government. Those of us in the private sector have been constantly cutting costs in order to survive. More than a few of us go without getting paid for awhile. A lot of us have been making less money since the onset of the recession in 2007. It seems like we are always improvising more efficient ways of managing our productivity. We have adapted and are now stronger because of this adversity.

    We laugh when government employees whine about A REDUCTION IN THE RATE OF GROWTH of their budgets. Not a budget cut, but a reduction in the rate of growth of their budget. All I can say is government workers had better get used to the new reality, government has to decrease in size, not increase.

    February 26, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. 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

    It is painfullyobvious at this point Obama never has or had any intention of cutting any REAL spending at the federal level. Cutting futre spending (unenforceable), claiming cuts for wars we are not involved in anymore, all stupid tricks to con people.

    Obama and the Democrats "balanced approach" is one tax increase, followed by another tax increase balanced by another tax increase. All he has done is TALK about cutting spending while raising taxes several times and now wanting even more. Obama and the Demorcats take over trillion in taxes out of the economy and then wonder why the economy starts heading south??? It is pretty clear they don't know what the heck they are doing.

    This country cannot afford all the freebies and gravy trains when fewer and fewer people are working and paying taxes. Obama and the Democrats think this can go on forever, if they can just raise taxes more and more and more. It is sheer leftist insanity.

    February 26, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. Kalil Talg

    These cuts are designed by Mr Obama to cause maximum pain to the American people, he is not interested in preventing fraud and mismanagment in the Gov, the GOP proposed many cuts that can take care of that and will not layoff anybody, but he wants to cause maximum pain so he can blame the opposition because that has always been his number one priority, not interested in anything that will improve the economy as long as he can blame others and win elections.

    February 26, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  16. kenb

    Obama complains about lack of compromise....wow! There are two parties in this dance and BOTH need to own it!

    February 26, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. just sayin

    Rudy NYC
    Republicans are simply trying to make the name "Obama" as toxic in 2014 and 2016
    don't need to... obamacare and now obama sequester will do that. both laws he signed. and i doubt those 7 million people that will lose their employer healthcare will be in any mood to vote for any democrat. and neither will all the others that get nailed with massive increases in healthcare costs while not being about to find a doctor.

    February 26, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    One might differ from that viewpoint, and say that the cuts are being artificially manufactured, to be more harmful than is really the case, in order to influence public opinion towards Obama's wants.

    The people are once again, being led down the primrose path.

    February 26, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  19. roger

    Yes, a self inflicted wound that the President himself promoted. Now that it's coming to fruition he's trying to blame the Republicans. What a gutless wonder we have running this country. Or should I say ruining this country.

    February 26, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  20. Rick in OP

    @Wake up People!

    All the typical RWNJ's are out in full force today. I still remember a smug drunk looking Boehner bragging that he got 98% of what he wanted.....

    Bye, bye rethuglikkkans, this is your death knell.

    Say goodbye to yourself. For your liberal agenda to be advanced, you must confiscate more money (taxes) and borrow more money (deficit spending). The trouble for you is that 35 cents of every dollar the federal government spends has to be borrowed. Your agenda is unsustainable. Don't believe me? Google "Stanley Druckenmiller". He was George Soros (you've heard of him) partner in their hedge fund. He gave an enlightening interview on CNBC last week on this very subject. A word of caution though, you have to be able to add and subtract to understand what he is saying.

    February 26, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. Wes

    Why does obama hate America so much?

    February 26, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. amf140

    Give me a break. This is only a bit over 2% of the Federal Budget – if that. Thanks to our government, we all just got a 2% increase in our taxes in January with the social security withholding going up. If they tell us that we can absorb 2% – why can't they absorb 2% too. That's not how the ruling elite works.

    February 26, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. Donna

    When it gets out that all the paper pushers are still on the job, all the waste, fraud and abuse continues, travel, conventions, conferences, training continues while Obama lets prisoners go and may potentially get people hurt of killed with these bogus cuts, it is going to backfire BIG TIME on the Democrats. They are overplaying their hand big time. Every rational adult knows 2 cents on the dollar is a joke to cut out of $3.5 TRILLION dollars of spending.

    February 26, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    I would like to thank the United States of America's media outlets ... ALL of them ... for once again hyping a situation to a point where our Congress would rather sit on it's butt and do nothing for fear of what the corporate media elites might say should they actually work together towards the good of ALL America ... and not just corporate America.

    This has been nothing but one big media commerical in the making. Quite, quite disgusting. And people wonder why I now longer watch the news ... cable or otherwise.

    February 26, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    LOL. And you thought it would only affect "them", huh Teatrolls? Bwahahahahaha!!! Reap reap reap away!!!

    February 26, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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