Surrounded by emergency first responders, President Obama urged Congress Tuesday to avoid the $85 billion in "automatic, severe" budget cuts known as the "sequester" that will kick in March 1.
Obama called the sequester a "meat cleaver approach" that "won't help the economy" and "won't create jobs." He warned it would lead to layoffs of teachers, cutbacks in the air traffic control system, furloughs of FBI agents, and a compromised military.
"These cuts are not smart, these cuts are not fair," Obama said. "People will lose their jobs."
Congress and Obama seem far apart in reaching a deal to reduce the deficit in time to avoid the sequester in ten days. Obama favors a "balanced" approach meaning a mix of both spending cuts and tax revenues. Congressional Republican leaders have said they want a cuts-only plan.
Boehner said the president needs to take action, rather than just offer strong rhetoric. "Washington Democrats' newfound concern about the president's sequester is appreciated, but words alone won't avert it," Boehner said in a statement. "Replacing the president's sequester will require a plan to cut spending that will put us on the path to a budget that is balanced in 10 years."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the government could fund essential services if it finds cuts elsewhere. "More than three months after the November election, President Obama still prefers campaign events to common sense, bipartisan action," he said.
Via USA TODAY