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Obama to press GOP on averting sequester

By Julie Pace

AP White House Correspondent

LAST UPDATED: 05:56 a.m. HST, Feb 19, 2013

WASHINGTON » Facing yet another fiscal deadline, President Barack Obama is urging congressional Republicans to accept more tax revenue in order to avert looming, across-the-board budget cuts due to take effect in less than two weeks.

Obama, fresh off a three-day Florida golfing trip, was to press his case during an event at the White House on this morning. Emergency responders, a group of workers the White House says could be affected if state and local governments lose federal money as a result of the cuts, were joining him.

The $85 billion in cuts, known as the sequester, will start taking effect on March 1 unless Congress acts. The White House says the sequester could derail an economy still suffering from high unemployment and sluggish growth.

Obama wants to offset the sequester through a combination of targeted spending cuts and increased tax revenue. The White House is backing a proposal unveiled last week by Senate Democrats that is in line with the president's principles.

But that plan was met with an icy reception by Republicans, who oppose raising more tax revenue in order to offset the cuts. GOP leaders say the president got the tax increases he wanted at the beginning of the year when Congress agreed to raise taxes on family income above $450,000 a year.

The White House said Obama today would call on congressional Republicans to compromise and accept the Senate Democrats' proposal.

The Democrats propose to generate revenue by plugging some tax loopholes. Those include tax breaks for the oil and natural gas industry and businesses that have sent jobs overseas, and by taxing millionaires at a rate of at least 30 percent.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said the Ohio Republican agrees the sequester is a bad way to reduce spending, but put the onus for averting the cuts on Democrats.

"A solution now requires the Senate — controlled by the president's party — to finally pass a plan of their own," spokesman Brendan Buck said.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan proposal today by co-chairs of an influential deficit-reduction commission called for reducing the deficit by $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years, with much of the savings coming through health care reform, closing tax loopholes, a stingier adjustment of Social Security's cost of living increases and other measures.

Some Republicans, including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have advocated plugging loopholes, but as part of a discussion on a tax overhaul, not sequestration.

"Loopholes are necessary for tax reform," Ryan said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." ''If you take them for spending, you're blocking tax reform and you're really not getting the deficit under control."

The sequester was first set to begin taking effect on Jan. 1. But as part of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations, the White House and lawmakers agreed to push it off for two months in order to create space to work on a larger budget deal.

With little progress on that front in recent weeks, Obama is calling for the sequester to be put off again, though it's unclear whether another delay would have any impact on the prospects for a broader budget agreement.

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palani wrote:
President Obama and his advisors Jack Lew and Gene Sperling conceived and promoted the sequester, so it's disingenuous for anyone in the White House to now pretend otherwise.


The problem is, an $85 billion reduction in the rate of spending growth contributes essentially nothing to a $1 trillion annual deficit. We need actual CUTS, in an aggregate amount at least 10 times greater than this feeble gesture.

on February 19,2013 | 05:13AM
Graham wrote:
Thank you for pointing this out...our media ignores the facts...
on February 19,2013 | 08:16AM
South76 wrote:
on February 19,2013 | 10:38AM
AhiPoke wrote:
Yes, very good comments. In the larger scheme of things, $85B is a drop in the bucket. What's also interesting is that this president has had more than four years to make some effort to avoid this "crisis" yet has done almost nothing. Then he makes comments in this state of the state speech that this is a manufactured crisis. Maybe he manufactured it?
on February 19,2013 | 10:36AM
false wrote:
Let me get this straight... this "sequester" thing isn't a cut in spending at all... it only says that over the next 20 years the "growth rate" of spending will be reduced? What, something like less than 1.5% over what is it 10, 20 years? ( instead of spending $100 more next year than we spent this year.... we can only spend an extra $99.95 next year than we did this year?) And to think, it was the Democrats and the Democrat president that came up with this "Sequester" plan in the first place. LOL LOL LOL
on February 19,2013 | 06:08AM
soundofreason wrote:
Have ya noticed that stock market is not worried about this. Even during the fiscal cliff that just passed. This is a game of politicians and money. Simple as that.
on February 19,2013 | 06:38AM
Manoa_Fisherman wrote:
Vince Lombardi once said, “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” ......As stated by Wendie Burbridge regarding last night's Hawaii Five-0 episode, but just as apropos in this situation. Obama doesn't talk to the real working press, so why would he want to talk to the Republicans? He loves to talk on Jay Leno's or David Letterman's shows, but has no regard for the tough interviews by real reporters.
on February 19,2013 | 07:01AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Now, I hate, hate to insult those of you that voted for Mr. Obama, but his standing in front of first responders, claiming that the evil Republicans would be responsible for their unavailability during an emergency, is politics so low as to only appeal to the mentally challenged. He's blaming the Republicans for sticking to the sequester cuts WHICH WERE HIS IDEA/PROPOSAL in the first place. He's raising the specter of loss of emergency responders, mainly funded by the states, when, as President, he is fully able to direct any cuts to non critical programs, like the billions he's aimed at wasteful green energy boondoggles. ------------ So, what's next? Will our great leader be giving another grim speech with Head Start toddlers standing behind him or ragged school children deprived of the Federally subsidized school lunches? I worry for a country in which 51% of the voting public buys into this sort of blatant political distortion.
on February 19,2013 | 07:51AM
serious wrote:
He got that 51% from the ones on the federal dole--the D's can't afford to lose those votes. The Senate and the President have done nothing to cull the spending!! They got into this problem because they didn't want to kick the can down the street-----the answer is they are going to extend this crap and kick it further down the street.
on February 19,2013 | 08:04AM
serious wrote:
I agree with you. He should have all the people on food stamps and other doles standing behind him, THOSE are the ones that will suffer and might have to go to work.
on February 19,2013 | 09:35AM
Ronin006 wrote:
You made the sequester bed, President Obama, now sleep in it.
on February 19,2013 | 07:52AM
tinapa wrote:
The sequestration was orchestrated by the Repubs during the 20011 debt ceiling negotiation. They threatend to let the US government default on its obligations unless Obama agrees to extend the Bush tax cuts and make drastic cuts in the basic pillar of family security such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid just to prove their ideoligical purity. But the Democrats countered that the Dept. of Defense be also included in the path of the cutting machine, thereby the sequestration was born. As part of their negotiation strategy, the right wingers wanted to embark a two prong attack...one side is to completely eviscerate the programs that benefit the poor and the middle class and the other side is to bring Obama down to his knees.; but they underestimated the President's political resiliency. Elections have consequences and the voters have dealt the President a winning hand. Armed with this electrifying electoral virtue, Obama should push aggresively his agenda for the sake of the middle class. The Repubs are in a complete disarray for lack of leadership and running around like disoriented politicians; therefore, Mr. President keep flooding the zones and let them taste their own brand of medication.
on February 19,2013 | 09:53AM
AhiPoke wrote:
I'm neither republican nor democrat as I believe both parties are bad but I definitely have issues with this president. With this so called crisis looming, he goes on a golfing vacation? I gotta admit he's really good at creating a crisis then he points at first responders or retirees as groups that will be negatively affected. In his own speeches he mentions cutting "waste in government" yet in his fours years as our president, why hasn't he addressed cutting any of it? I believe he'll eventually go down as the worse president of my lifetime. Great politician but terrible president.
on February 19,2013 | 10:43AM
entrkn wrote:
The radical fascist elements of the gop are dragging down the party further and further every day...
on February 19,2013 | 10:49AM
entrkn wrote:
... and when the sequester is imposed, the states that forced it should shoulder most of the burden.
on February 19,2013 | 10:52AM
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