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Weekly Address: President Obama “Time to Replace the Sequester”

From the White House – Weekly Address

President Obama says that because Republicans in Congress allowed a series of harmful, automatic budget cuts-called the sequester-to take effect, important programs like Head Start are now forced to reduce their services. After travelers were stuck for hours in airports and on planes this past week, members of Congress passed a temporary band-aid measure to stop the cuts that impact airlines – but they must do more to stop cuts to vital services for the American people. That’s why it’s time for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that makes smarter cuts and reforms in the tax code while creating jobs and strengthening the middle class.

Transcript: Time to Replace the Sequester with a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction –

Hi, everybody.  Our top priority as a nation must be growing the economy, creating good jobs, and rebuilding opportunity for the middle class.

But two months ago, Congress allowed a series of automatic budget cuts to fall across the federal government that would do the opposite.  In Washington-speak, these cuts were called the “sequester.”  It was a bad idea then.  And as the country saw this week, it’s a bad idea now.

Because of these reckless cuts, there are parents whose kids just got kicked out of Head Start programs scrambling for a solution.  There are seniors who depend on programs like Meals on Wheels to live independently looking for help.  There are military communities – families that have already sacrificed enough – coping under new strains.  All because of these cuts.

This week, the sequester hurt travelers, who were stuck for hours in airports and on planes, and rightly frustrated by it.  And, maybe because they fly home each weekend, the Members of Congress who insisted these cuts take hold finally realized that they actually apply to them too.

Republicans claimed victory when the sequester first took effect, and now they’ve decided it was a bad idea all along.  Well, first, they should look at their own budget.  If the cuts they propose were applied across the board, the FAA would suffer cuts three times deeper.

So Congress passed a temporary fix.  A Band-Aid.  But these cuts are scheduled to keep falling across other parts of the government that provide vital services for the American people.  And we can’t just keep putting Band-Aids on every cut.  It’s not a responsible way to govern.  There is only one way to truly fix the sequester: by replacing it before it causes further damage.

A couple weeks ago, I put forward a budget that replaces the next several years of these dumb cuts with smarter cuts; reforms our tax code to close wasteful special interest loopholes; and invests in things like education, research, and manufacturing that will create new jobs right now.

So I hope Members of Congress will find the same sense of urgency and bipartisan cooperation to help the families still in the crosshairs of these cuts.  They may not feel the pain felt by kids kicked off Head Start, or the 750,000 Americans projected to lose their jobs because of these cuts, or the long-term unemployed who will be further hurt by them.  But that pain is real.

The American people worked too hard, for too long, rebuilding from one economic crisis just to see your elected officials keep causing more.  Our economy is growing.  Our deficits are shrinking.  We’re creating jobs on a consistent basis.  But we need to do more to help middle-class families get ahead, and give more folks a chance to earn their way into the middle class.  And we can, if we work together.  That’s what you expect.  That’s what I’m going to work every single day to help deliver.  Thank you.


Bolding added.

Editor’s Note: This will be the weekend Open News Thread.


  1. I see it now. This issue is now an issue being talked about by the public because of the impact it had on people’s daily lives.

    And this is still the goal that the president has his eye on:

    I hope Members of Congress will find the same sense of urgency and bipartisan cooperation to help the families still in the crosshairs of these cuts.  They may not feel the pain felt by kids kicked off Head Start, or the 750,000 Americans projected to lose their jobs because of these cuts, or the long-term unemployed who will be further hurt by them.  But that pain is real.

    White hot light … shining on Congress.

  2. Brian Beutler at TPM How to Lose the Sequestration Fight

    The point of sequestration is supposedly to create just enough chaos that regular people – people with political clout, such as, say, business travelers – demand that Congress fix it. Or as the Democrats conceived it, to create the public pressure they need to knock Republicans off their absolutist position on taxes.

    Well, they got their outcry…and then promptly folded. They allowed Republicans to inaccurately characterize the FAA furloughs as a political stunt. Then without any organized effort to cast the flight delays as part of the same problem that’s also keeping poor people homeless they assented to providing special treatment to the traveling class.

    Steny Hoyer nails it

    “We ought not to be mitigating the sequester’s effect on just one segment, when children, the sick, our military and many other groups who will be impacted by this irresponsible policy are left unhelped,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD).


    Boehner: House Acted To Fix FAA Furloughs Because Obama Wouldn’t


    McCain: Now Let’s Save The Military From The Sequester

    Double sigh.

  3. From Think Progress

    Here are 12 programs that have experienced devastating cuts because Congress insists on cutting spending when it doesn’t need to – and that have been ignored by the same lawmakers who leaped to action as soon as their trips home were going to take a little longer:

    1. Long-term unemployment

    2. Head Start

    3. Cancer treatment

    4. Health research

    5. Low-income housing

    6. Student aid

    7. Meals On Wheels

    8. Disaster relief (FEMA)

    9. Heating assistance

    10. Workplace safety (OSHA)

    11. Obamacare

    12. Child care

    This may be a clue to why Congress is doing this:

  4. President Obama Speaks to the Planned Parenthood Conference

    Today, President Obama spoke at the Planned Parenthood Conference in Washington, DC, reaffirming the core principle that has guided the organization for nearly a century: that women should be allowed to make their own decisions about their own health.

    “After decades of progress, there’s still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century,” he said. “And they’ve been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women’s health.”

       When you read about some of these laws, you want to check the calendar; you want to make sure you’re still living in 2013.

       Forty years after the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose, we shouldn’t have to remind people that when it comes to a woman’s health, no politician should get to decide what’s best for you.  No insurer should get to decide what kind of care that you get.  The only person who should get to make decisions about your health is you.

  5. zenor

    Congress is necessary.

    Congress is our American Way.

    Do you know where Congress belongs?

    That’s right! Congress belongs with the dinosaurs who escaped from Jurassic Park and migrated to Tennessee.

    Republicans used to ride dinosaurs to Jesus school when they were little.

    Then they grew up to tithe humanity as the Good Book says.

    God Bless Republicans, and may they assend to their special Heaven as soon as possible, so, as the agents of God’s Will, they won’t have to take 10 per cent of us to the poorhouse, the ER, the Jail, the Battlefield, or the Cemetery.

    That’s what agents get.

    Do you have an agent?

    10 percent less of them wouldn’t hurt either.

    Congress should enact an infinite regression where such agents are reduced by 10ths every 10 seconds, until people get tired of it.

    Another word for agents is evil lobbyists. We should take 10 percent of them away every 10 seconds too. This is called addition by subtraction.

    Do you study addition by subtraction in your school?

    It’s just like divide and conquer, or be fruitful and multiply.

    I feel 10 per cent better now. Do you?

  6. raina

    But for now, Congress can say it has moved to solve a problem Washington created that was annoying hundreds of thousands of travelers every day. Said Sen. John S. McCain of Arizona: “I don’t have to now wear a mask or a disguise when I go through the airport, I’m happy to say.”

    Not really sure what he’s saying here. Is he saying the sequestration forced him to go incognito? From what I gathered, they voted for this emergency measure because they themselves were going to be inconvenienced going home.

  7. The Democrats have lost on sequestration

    In effect, what Democrats said Friday was that in any case where the political pain caused by sequestration becomes unbearable, they will agree to cancel that particular piece of the bill while leaving the rest of the law untouched. The result is that sequestration is no longer particularly politically threatening, but it’s even more unbalanced: Cuts to programs used by the politically powerful will be addressed, but cuts to programs that affects the politically powerless will persist. It’s worth saying this clearly: The pain of sequestration will be concentrated on those who lack political power.

    I agree with this. But Ezra goes on:

    President Obama could’ve vetoed the FAA bill while standing at a Head Start that’s about to throw needy children out of the program. He could’ve vetoed it from the home of an jobless worker who just saw her benefits cut.

    If President Obama had vetoed that bill and the shorthanded control towers resulted in an aviation accident, he would have lost more than a sequestration spitting contest with Congress. Unless I am missing something, the bill did not originate at the White House, it was presented to the president to sign. That means he owns whatever happens as the result of the veto.

    Ezra sees a way out and maybe at this point, since the Republicans seem immune to the laws of physics in this game of chicken, it makes the most sense:

    At this point, it probably makes sense for the White House to push for and accept an expanded version of the Inhofe-Toomey bill giving them some discretion over how the cuts are distributed. […] If sequestration is permanent … they might as well make it a bit less painful.

  8. NBC News: What’s the economy’s big problem? In a word: Washington

    Analysts say deficit-cutting moves — including a two percent payroll tax hike that kicked in Jan. 1 and the ongoing the federal budget cutting known as sequestration — are beginning to take a bite out of growth. That’s expected to continue later this year.

    “The economy continues at a brisk walk at best,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors. “With the tax hikes reducing disposable income and sequestration restraining federal spending, don’t expect strong economic growth anytime soon.”[…]

    “I think the U.S. economy could bust out of the two percent kind of funk we’re in right now, if we’d make some decisions in Washington,” UPS CEO Scott Davis told CNBC. “We have a huge amount of small business commerce as our customer base. They’re sitting on their hands. They’re not hiring people, not making investments, until they understand the rules of the road.”

    For the record, that is not a 2% tax hike … that was the temporary FICA contribution reduction expiring.

    And this is less about the “rules of the road” which suggest that old canard that it is the unknowns of regulations that are hindering small businesses. The uncertainty comes about because as the sequester rolls out, no one knows where the axe will fall. You would not want to make an investment of resources in your business if you are unsure who your customers will be.

    The Republicans have been holding the economy hostage since President Obama saved it from Bush’s incompetent stewardship. They need to put the metaphorical gun down and roll up their sleeves and fix the real problem: uncertainty over whether our government will stop being able to meet its obligations to both its creditors and its neediest citizens.

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