Standing before a group of emergency responders, President Obama urged Congress to avoid sequestration that will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, including those of the nation’s emergency personnel.
“These cuts are not smart, they are not fair, they will hurt our economy, they will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls,” Obama said in remarks. “This is not an abstraction. People will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.”
He continued, “So far at least, the ideas that the Republicans have proposed ask nothing of the wealthiest Americans or the biggest corporations. So the burden is all on the first responders, or seniors, or middle class families.”
Sequestration is scheduled to take effect March 1, just 10 days from Tuesday, unless Congress can come up with $85 billion in cuts that would push back the sequestration deadline. If not, the federal government will face $1 trillion in cuts over the next decade, including ones over the remaining seven months of the federal fiscal year.
The “meat cleaver approach” – as Obama called it – will lead to teacher layoffs, air traffic control system cutbacks, Federal Bureau of Investigation agent furloughs and a compromised military, Obama said.
Obama again called for heading off sequestration with a “balanced” debt reduction plan.
In response to Obama, Republicans didn’t question his statement that the spending cuts would have dire impact on the nation’s economy, but they insisted that the plan to avert them include only spending cuts, but not tax increases.
“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,” said House Speaker John Boehner. “To keep these first responders on the job, what other spending is the president willing to cut?”