President Barack Obama urged Congress to approve a "balanced" budget that combines a package of targeted spending reductions with new revenue raised by closing tax loopholes during a 13-minute presentation Friday from the White House. The president was joined by a group of emergency responders who could be adversely affected if sequestration goes into effect. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
President Obama pressed Congress again Tuesday to head off $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts set to start taking effect March 1.
Lawmakers instead should approve “a balanced approach” that combines a smaller package of targeted spending reductions with new revenue raised by closing tax loopholes, Obama said in a 13-minute presentation from the White House.
“I am willing to work with anybody to get the job done,” Obama said. “None of us will get 100 percent of what we want, but nobody should want these cuts to go through.”
Behind him stood about 16 uniformed firefighters and other first responders. If the cuts take effect, Obama said, FBI agents will be furloughed, Border Patrol agents will work fewer hours and “hundreds of thousands of jobs” will be at risk.
“These cuts are not smart, they are not fair, they will hurt our economy,” Obama said. He did not take questions from reporters afterwards.
Both the House and Senate are out of session this week, meaning that only four days will remain to avert sequestration, as the cuts are formally known, when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill.
Last week, Senate Democrats unveiled a $110 billion deficit reduction plan that would combine a tax increase on millionaires with long-term cuts to defense spending and farm subsidies.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has shown no interest in pursuing the plan. In a Tuesday statement, McConnell dismissed Obama’s appearance as evidence that, three months after the November election, the president “still prefers campaign events to common sense, bipartisan action.”