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Weekly Address: President Obama to Congress “You must compromise”

From the White House – Weekly Address

In his weekly address, President Obama tells the American people that a series of harmful budget cuts-called the sequester-have taken effect because Congress failed to act. Because Republicans in Congress refused to compromise to close tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans, hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose their jobs or see their paycheck reduced, and middle class families will be hurt. Congress must join the President now to replace these cuts with a balanced approach that reduces our deficit while also making smart investments in areas that help our economy grow.

Transcript –  Weekly Address: Congress Must Compromise to Stop the Impact of the Sequester

Hi, everybody. On Friday, I met with leaders of both parties in Congress to try and find a way forward in light of the severe budget cuts – known in Washington as “the sequester” – that have already started to inflict pain on communities across the country.

These cuts are not smart. They will hurt our economy and cost us jobs. And Congress can turn them off at any time – as soon as both sides are willing to compromise.

As a nation, we’ve already fought back from the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, and we’ll get through this, too. But at a time when our businesses are finally gaining some traction, hiring new workers, bringing jobs back to America – the last thing Washington should do is to get in their way. That’s what these cuts to education, research, and defense will do. It’s unnecessary. And at a time when too many of our friends and neighbors are still looking for work, it’s inexcusable.

Now, it’s important to understand that, while not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away, the pain will be real. Many middle-class families will have their lives disrupted in a significant way.

Beginning this week, businesses that work with the military will have to lay folks off. Communities near military bases will take a serious blow. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who serve their country – Border Patrol agents, FBI agents, civilians who work for the Defense Department – will see their wages cut and their hours reduced.

This will cause a ripple effect across the economy. Businesses will suffer because customers will have less money to spend. The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage. Economists estimate they could eventually cost us more than 750,000 jobs and slow our economy by over one-half of one percent.

Here’s the thing: none of this is necessary. It’s happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps reduce the deficit. Just this week, they decided that protecting special interest tax breaks for the well-off and well-connected is more important than protecting our military and middle-class families from these cuts.

I still believe we can and must replace these cuts with a balanced approach – one that combines smart spending cuts with entitlement reform and changes to our tax code that make it more fair for families and businesses without raising anyone’s tax rates. That’s how we can reduce our deficit without laying off workers, or forcing parents and students to pay the price. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. It’s the kind of approach I’ve proposed for two years now. A majority of the American people agree with me on this approach – including a majority of Republicans. We just need Republicans in Congress to catch up with their own party and the rest of the country.

Now, I know there are Republicans in Congress who would actually rather see tax loopholes closed than let these cuts go through. And I know there are Democrats who’d rather do smart entitlement reform than let these cuts go through. There’s a caucus of common sense. And I’m going to keep reaching out to them to fix this for good.

Because the American people are weary of perpetual partisanship and brinksmanship. This is America, and in America, we don’t careen from one manufactured crisis to another. We make smart choices. We plan. We prioritize. So I’m going to push through this paralysis and keep fighting for the real challenges facing middle-class families. I’m going to keep pushing for high-quality preschool for every family that wants it, and make sure the minimum wage becomes a wage you can live on. I’m going to keep pushing to fix our immigration system, repair our transportation system, and keep our children safe from gun violence.

That’s the work you elected me to do. That’s what I’m focused on every single day. Thanks.

bolding added


  1. From yesterday’s press conference :

    “I am not a dictator, I’m the President,” Obama said. “So, ultimately, if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say, we need to go to catch a plane, I can’t have Secret Service block the doorway.”

    Obama added: “I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s been floating around Washington that somehow, even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal. The fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow, you know, do a Jedi mindmeld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right. Well, you know, they’re elected. We have a constitutional system of government.”

    It is very popular to blame President Obama for not simply declaring a law into existence (almost as popular as blaming him for things he has not done but mightdocoulddowhatifhedid!). Popular … and wrong. President Obama only has the bully pulpit at this point. There is nothing he can do without Congress to undo the sequester.

  2. LeftOverFlowerChild

    reminder that this IS real. My husband works for the FAA, he’s in security–no, not TSA. :o) His group is in charge of air traffic control towers and the FAA grounds. I was impressed by the way Sec. LaHood made it clear every effort would be made to hold off on furloughs going out. Eventually it’s going to come down to essential personnel and seniority. But even those spared a full furlough may very well be looking at less hours in order to keep as many people working as possible.

    A number of the people my husband works with are very concerned about some cuts being made permanent. Which  means their jobs could easily evaporate. It’s a real possibility.

    I know my community will be hit hard. Republican voters, Obama haters–it matters not, they are still my neighbors and yes, my friends. I’m concerned for all of us. At this point I feel like all I can do is work with others to beef up food banks through my husband’s union and do the same in my community. It’s going to get ugly if there isn’t some compromise somewhere and soon.  

  3. 5 Dates To Watch In Budget Showdown

    March 1

    Sequestration of $85 billion from projected spending for the current fiscal year (which expires Sept. 30) begins no later than 11:59 p.m. It will cut 13 percent of defense spending – uniformed personnel costs are exempted – and 9 percent of domestic discretionary spending

    March 27

    The continuing resolution (CR) by which the federal government is being funded expires March 27. If a new CR is not approved by Congress before then, there could be a government shutdown at that point.

    April 1

    Federal employees can only be furloughed with 30 days’ notice, and notices cannot be sent until sequestration is in effect, so there can be no employee furloughs before April 1.


    The statutory debt ceiling has been suspended by Congress through mid-May, meaning the Treasury Department can accrue additional debt until then without violating any legal limit. [… stopgap measures will hold off reaching the debt limit for a few months]

    October 1

    The beginning of fiscal year 2014 could prove another crisis point. There’s little agreement about how sequestration should be dealt with in next year’s budget, so passing appropriations bills may prove difficult. By law – the August 2011 Budget Control Act – sequestration is to continue every year for the next eight years, paring around $85 billion each year off projected spending levels

    Well, I did not realize that the sequester was set to keep hacking away at government for the next 8 years. I am in agreement with the AFL-CIO: the sequester needs to be repealed. This is insanity.

  4. blue jersey mom

    thwarting Obama, regardless of what Obama proposes. It really is Obama derangement syndrome. If Obama suggested that the sky is blue, 40% of American would insist that the sky is red.  

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