President Barack Obama urged Congress today to avoid the looming across-the-board cuts set to kick in March 1 as a result of the sequester, saying they will be damaging to potential economic growth in 2013.”Our economy is headed in the right direction. And it will stay that way as long as there are no self-inflicted wounds,” he said.
The latest wound identified by Obama was the sequester, whose cuts are expected to amount to $1.2 trillion over 10 years — including $85.3 billion in fiscal year 2013 alone. House Republicans have pledged a willingness to let the sequester take effect, though they would prefer to allocate the array of spending cuts differently.
Obama said that the economy is poised for success this year, but that the uncertainty from the “effects that political dysfunction can have” threatened to hold back any steps forward. He said that if Congress can’t come to a broad budget agreement by March 1, it should delay the sequester by a few months to avoid the harmful consequences.
“If Congress can’t act immediately on a bigger package by the time the sequester is set to go into effect,” they should delay the “damaging effects” of the sequester, Obama said.
Obama called for a “balanced mix” of spending cuts and tax reform.
He emphasised — twice — that the proposals put forward during negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner on the fiscal cliff “are still very much on the table.” He repeated, for emphasis, that they were “on the table.” Those proposals included some cuts to Social Security.
In a statement earlier on Tuesday, Boehner flatly rejected an assertion that new revenue would be part of a deal to avert the sequester.
“President Obama first proposed the sequester and insisted it become law,” Boehner said in a statement provided by his office.
“Republicans have twice voted to replace these arbitrary cuts with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defence. We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes. The President’s sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years.”
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