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Obama urges Congress to compromise on cuts

By Julie Pace and Philip Elliot

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 08:15 a.m. HST, Feb 25, 2013


WASHINGTON » Facing an end of the week deadline, President Barack Obama said today that Congress can avert sweeping across-the-board cuts with "just a little bit of compromise," as he sought to stick lawmakers with the blame if the budget ax falls.

Speaking to the nation's governors, Obama acknowledged that the impact of the $85 billion in cuts may not be felt immediately. But he also said the uncertainty already is impacting the economy, as the Pentagon and other agencies get ready to furlough employees.

"At some point we've got to do some governing," Obama said. "And certainly what we can't do is keep careening from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis."

Despite Obama's urgent rhetoric, there is little indication that the White House and Congress will reach a deal by Friday's deadline. Obama wants to offset the so-called sequester through a combination of targeted spending cuts and revenue increases, but Republicans oppose any plan that would include tax hikes.

The $85 billion budget-cutting mechanism could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms to meat inspections. Domestic and defense spending alike would be trimmed, leading to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of government workers and contractors.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said travelers could see delayed flights. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said 70,000 fewer children from low-income families would have access to Head Start programs. And furloughed meat inspectors could leave plants idled.

Despite the Friday deadline, there are no serious negotiations happening between the White House and Congress. Obama is focused instead are trying to rally public support for his stance in the debate by warning Americans of the dire consequences of the across-the-board cuts.

The president told the governors that cuts would "''slow our economy, eliminate good jobs, and leave a lot of folks who are already pretty thinly stretched scrambling to figure out what to do."

The spending cuts have frustrated governors attending the National Governors Association meeting in Washington. They contend it has created widespread uncertainty in the economy and hampered economic recovery in their states.

"The No. 1 risk, in my view, to the continuing economic comeback of Michigan is the federal government," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican and former business executive, said in an interview. Snyder said many companies remain in limbo on whether to invest in their business because of the financial uncertainty.

"What's the likely outcome? Are they going to put in a solution that's set for two or three years or are they simply going to say now it's going to move to the fall? It's not good," he said.

The White House, seeking to ratchet up pressure on congressional lawmakers, gave the governors state-by-state reports on the impact of the cuts on their constituencies.

White House officials pointed to Ohio — home of House Speaker John Boehner — as one state that would be hit hard: $25.1 million in education spending and another $22 million for students with disabilities. Some 2,500 children from low-income families would also be removed from Head Start programs.

Officials said their analysis showed Kentucky would lose $93,000 in federal funding for a domestic abuse program, meaning 400 fewer victims being served in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's home state. Georgia, meanwhile, would face a $286,000 budget cut to its children's health programs, meaning almost 4,200 fewer children would receive vaccinations against measles and whooping cough.

The White House compiled its state-by-state reports from federal agencies and its own budget office. The numbers reflect the impact of the cuts this year. Unless Congress acts by Friday, $85 billion in cuts are set to take effect from March to September.

As to whether states could move money around to cover shortfalls, the White House said that depends on state budget structures and the specific programs. The White House did not have a list of which states or programs might have flexibility.

Republican leaders were not impressed by the state-by-state reports.

"The White House needs to spend less time explaining to the press how bad the sequester will be and more time actually working to stop it," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner.

Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.







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kaupena wrote:
Tax the rich to pay for the poor. Hmmmm is that he way we want to help the poor? Are we really helping them or are we crippling them?
on February 25,2013 | 07:28AM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Kaupena, right on. How about Pres. Obama and the Demo's teach the poor to grow rice and catch fish. Oh yes, Pres. Obama and the Demo's don't know how to grow rice and catch fish. Pres. Obama has crippled the poor by giving them handouts.
on February 25,2013 | 10:39AM
sarguy2 wrote:
Actually he is the only one NOT willing to compromise!
on February 25,2013 | 07:51AM
AhiPoke wrote:
'Obama urges Congress to compromise on cuts" - In obama speak that means "do it my way". The proof? "Despite the Friday deadline, there are no serious negotiations happening between the White House and Congress. Obama is focused instead are trying to rally public support for his stance..." - That says it all. The public will, hopefully, eventually see this president for what he is, an egotistical maniac, more intent on manufacturing crisis after crisis than he is on governing this country.
on February 25,2013 | 07:59AM
carolm wrote:
I agree with you. Plus the cuts should come from the top, NOT the bottom workers. Get rid of all the "czar" positions that Obama created.
on February 25,2013 | 11:24AM
Pacej001 wrote:
So, our president is railing against a "manufactured crisis" THAT HE CREATED. His idea, his suggestion, his plan, his proposal, included in the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations at his demand. His. His. His. Got that, democrats? HIS. --------And now, this empty little man, who says we need to start "governing", has gone full throttle, along with all his cabinet members, on a gloom and doom campaign. Cutting 1.5% of Federal spending this year will end life on the planet as we know it: Planes falling from the sky in flames, body cavity searches by TSA for traveling grandmothers, first responders standing by and watching senior citizen's homes go up in smoke.-------------- Oh, the horror. A crisis so, so serious, manufactured by those Republican meanies so they can get them selves tossed out of congress in 2014. And we wouldn't want to believe that famed Washington Post reporter, Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame, could ACTUALLY be telling the truth that this sequester idea originated in the Whitehouse (maybe it was the Bush Whitehouse he's talking about). So there you go, end of the world AND Bush's fault, the two pillars of Obama's ingenious fiscal policy.
on February 25,2013 | 08:40AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Progressives/liberals: Where are you? Defend your man. Is he right that a 1.5% cut to this years Federal spending will cause the planet to stop spinning and lead to the collapse of civilized society as we know it or has our president made the choice to avoid, at all cost, taking care of the nations business, instead embarking on a campaign aimed at terrorizing us into a herd like form of behavior to gain him political advantage.
on February 25,2013 | 09:24AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Progressives/liberals: Where are you? Defend your man. Is he right that a 1.5% cut to this years Federal spending will cause the planet to stop spinning and lead to the collapse of civilized society as we know it or has our president made the choice to avoid, at all cost, taking care of the nations business, instead embarking on a campaign aimed at terrorizing us into a herd like form of behavior to gain him political advantage.
on February 25,2013 | 09:25AM
tinapa wrote:
The only politician in Wasington who is governing on behalf of the American people is the President. The President made a sensiible and balanced proposal in which the sequester impact is offset through a combination of targeted spending cuts and closing tax loopholes that only benefit the rich. However, such a proposal was rejected by the Repubs, who opted to protect the interest of the rich over the well being of the economy and the working class as well. Back in 2011, during the debt ceiling negotiation,Sen. McConnell said, "the economy is a hostage that is worth taking." Now, they double down the ante by indicating that this time "they will shoot the hostage." So, they are ready to unleash the wrath of the sequestration. Once everyone feels the painfull effects of the sequestration and the economic casualties start to mount, the public will also unleash their wrath toward the Repubs and hopefully, they (Repubs) will pull their heads out of the sand and start compromising.
on February 25,2013 | 01:56PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Where do you come up with this stuff? He has no actionable proposal. He refuses to entertain spending control. His idea of a "balanced approach" is more taxes and, then, more taxes. Au contrail as to who is the craven party here. Obama is using the current impasse to attempt a Democrat return to control of the House in 2014. And your cherry picked quotes are just that. How about Obama's pledge to cut the deficit in half during his first term? Don't think that happened and there's no evidence he even attempted to honor that pledge. As to the "wrath of sequestration", you are being a bit over dramatic. The horrible, catastrophic cut isn't a cut at all. It is a reduction in the amount of growth of Federal discretionary spending. On top of that, the "cut" amounts to $44 billion. If we can't "cut" this tiny portion of the Federal budget, we are doomed. Will the public unleash "wrath" on the republicans. Maybe. After all Obama was elected by a coalition of low information voters. They haven't gone anywhere, so I suppose Mr. Obama can make these cuts as painful and visible as possible to fire them up. On the other hand, the republicans are in a corner with their base and must show spending cuts after knuckling under to Obama's recent $600 billion tax increase on the evil rich. While it appears Obama has an advantage now, all the republicans have to do is pass legislation offering him flexibility to manage the sequestor's relatively minor spending reductions and your hero will be left standing there with his pants around his ankles.
on February 25,2013 | 04:28PM
realist3463 wrote:
I am a simple guy and I do not understand what the heck the problem is with DOD. The following is a list of actual DOD "Outlays" by Federal Fiscal Year (the federal fiscal year is October 1 through September 30) in Billions of Dollars (not adjusted for inflation) (all figures are from the "Financial Summary Tables of the Budgets published by DOD annually). I am totally confused (and do not have the time to adequately educate myself about the trackless swamp of federal budgeting) as to whether the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are included in or in addition to these numbers. My sense from several conflicting documents is that the costs of those wars are in addition to these numbers. 2007 $529.089 2008 $545.353 2009 $551.105 2010 $579.698 2011 $677.964 2012 $688.179 Actual outlays for Fiscal Year 2013 are not yet known (and is that what the yelling and wailing is about?). The "Sequester" cuts in spending are supposed to amount to $42.7 Billion for DOD. We are already 5/12 of the way through FY 2013, and the sequester cuts will supposedly be prorated(I think) but it is not clear to me whether the $42.7 Billion figure is before or after proration if that is a factor. To keep it simple however, let's assume that $42.7 Billion is the total amount "cut from last year's actual outlays" and not prorated. That means that FY 2013 actual outlays for DOD should be $645.479. That is $65.781 Billion more than DOD spent in FY 2010 or any year before that. Inflation has been relatively low the last few years, at least by government counting. Why is going back to a budget that is 11.3% higher than we spent in FY 2010 going to be a disaster, and require 20% cuts in salaries for DOD (civilian?) personnel and significant cuts in military personnel. Seems to me cutting a few high end useless programs like the F35, the idiotic LCS and a few others like halving the number of Flag and General officers would solve the DOD problem. Time to just let it happen but make the cuts rationally and not how they were designed by the congress, across the board. My view from Kaaawa is taking $42.7 B from the Defense budget is easy and should have been done w/out fan fair.......but I guess this is about gotcha politics.....
on February 25,2013 | 09:31AM
realist3463 wrote:
My Comment has been sent for approval? You got to be kidding me.
on February 25,2013 | 09:34AM
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