President Obama on the sequester: The GOP’s meat-cleaver approach will hurt America

On March 14, 2013, an array of severe, across-the-board spending cuts will automatically take place unless Congress acts to prevent it. Congressional Republicans have adamantly refused to consider closing tax loopholes enjoyed only by the wealthiest minority of Americans, insisting that deficit reduction must be accomplished through slashing funds for national defense, police and firefighters, health care, programs for children and seniors, and other cuts that will cause hundreds of thousands of Americans to lose their jobs. Today, Feb. 19, the President called on Congress to find a balanced compromise while there’s still time.

The President: Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research. It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions.

Emergency responders like the ones who are here today — their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country.

Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.

And already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf. And as our military leaders have made clear, changes like this — not well thought through, not phased in properly — changes like this affect our ability to respond to threats in unstable parts of the world.

So 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. This is not an abstraction — people will lose their jobs.…

So I need everybody who’s watching today to understand we’ve got a few days. Congress can do the right thing. We can avert just one more Washington-manufactured problem that slows our recovery, and bring down our deficits in a balanced, responsible way. That’s my goal. That’s what would do right by these first responders. That’s what would do right by America’s middle class. That’s what I’m going to be working on and fighting for not just over the next few weeks, but over the next few years.

Full text of the President’s remarks: http://1.usa.gov/XrRQOV

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