President Obama formally asked Congress to come up with tens of billions of dollars in short-term spending cuts to avoid sequestration, which is scheduled to take effect March 1 unless a budget agreement is reached.
In an announcement at the White House, Obama asked Congress for a targeted way to reduce the federal deficit over the next couple of months in order to give Congress more time to work out a 10-year plan that would cut more than $1 trillion in deficit reductions.
“If Congress can’t act immediately on a bigger package … by the time sequester should take effect, they should at least pass a smaller package to delay the equally damaging effects of sequester until they find a smarter solution,” Obama said.
If Congress is able to find deficit reductions up to $85 billion, that would put off sequestration until the start of the next federal fiscal year.
If sequestration takes place, it would reduce the Pentagon’s budget by seven percent and federal domestic programs by five percent. It would also result in the furloughs of defense civilian employees and economists have warned the cuts could send the country into another recession.
Obama said the country should not be forced to face the economic issues associated with sequestration because “some people can’t get along.”
“President Obama first proposed the sequester and insisted it become law,” Republican Speaker John Boehner said in a released statement when news of Obama’s intended announcement broke. “Republicans have twice voted to replace these arbitrary cuts with common sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defense.”
He continued, “We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes. The president’s sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years.”