Weekly Address: President Obama Asks Congress to Stop the Sequester

by: JanF

Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 11:34:10 AM EST

From the White House - Weekly Address

President Obama urges Congress to stop the sequester -- the harmful automatic cuts that threaten thousands of jobs and affect our national security from taking effect on March 1.

JanF :: Weekly Address: President Obama Asks Congress to Stop the Sequester
Hi, everybody.  Our top priority as a country right now should be doing everything we can to grow our economy and create good, middle class jobs.

And yet, less than one week from now, Congress is poised to allow a series of arbitrary, automatic budget cuts that will do the exact opposite.  They will slow our economy.  They will eliminate good jobs.  They will leave many families who are already stretched to the limit scrambling to figure out what to do.

But here's the thing: these cuts don't have to happen.   Congress can turn them off anytime with just a little compromise.  They can pass a balanced plan for deficit reduction.  They can cut spending in a smart way, and close wasteful tax loopholes for the well-off and well-connected.

Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising - instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans - they would rather let these cuts fall squarely on the middle class.

Here's what that choice means.  Once these cuts take effect, thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off, and tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids.  Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, causing delays across the country.  Even President Bush's director of the National Institutes of Health says these cuts will set back medical science for a generation.

Already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf - affecting our ability to respond to threats in an unstable part of the world.  And just this week, the Pentagon announced that if these cuts go through, almost 800,000 defense employees - the equivalent of every person in Miami and Cleveland combined - will be forced to take unpaid leave.

That's what this choice means.  Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids' schools and mental health care just to protect tax loopholes for corporate jet owners?  Are they really willing to slash military health care and the border patrol just because they refuse to eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies?  Are they seriously prepared to inflict more pain on the middle class because they refuse to ask anything more of those at the very top?

These are the questions Republicans in Congress need to ask themselves.  And I'm hopeful they'll change their minds.  Because the American people have worked too hard for too long to see everything they've built undone by partisan recklessness in Washington.

I believe we should work together to build on the more than $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction we've already achieved.  But I believe we should do it in a balanced way - with smart spending cuts, entitlement reform, and tax reform. That's my plan.  It's got tough cuts, tough reforms, and asks more of the wealthiest Americans. It's on the White House website for everyone to see.  And it requires Democrats and Republicans to meet half way to resolve the problem.  That's what the American people expect. And that's what you deserve.

We just need Republicans in Washington to come around.  Because we need their help to finish the job of reducing our deficit in a smart way that doesn't hurt our economy or our people.  After all, as we learned in the 1990s, nothing shrinks the deficit faster than a growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs.  That has to be our driving focus.  That has to be our North Star.  Making America a magnet for good jobs.  Equipping our people with the skills required to fill those jobs.  Making sure your hard work leads to a decent living.  That's what this city should be focused on like a laser.  And I'm going to keep pushing folks here to remember that.


(Bolding added)

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Poison Pills and Partisan Politics (2.00 / 20)
No one believed that Congress would allow this sequester to take place because the bill was filled with so many poison pills.

Actually it was filled with thermonuclear suppositories. But the question "would Congress be so reckless as to allow these cuts to take place?" should NEVER EVER be asked of this Congress.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

thermonuclear suppositories! (2.00 / 15)
I'm so stealing that. Thanks Jan for the update

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
I suppose I better Tweet that before the Cool Kids steal it! ;) (2.00 / 13)

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Thermonuclear suppositories (2.00 / 7)
The truly effective relief for atomic piles.

Preparation H-bomb.

[ Parent ]
Laying out his case, yet again (2.00 / 10)
when Boehner and his gang let this deal happen President Obama will have the months of statements like this to back him up. The republicans have already lost the PR war on this and it hasn't even begun yet.

Two things:

1.) How nice is it to have a presidential address begin with: "Hi, everybody"

2.) It is really a joy to come across his weekly statement and to be able to comment on it without treading through a comment section spammed by haters.

On #2 (2.00 / 8)
I agree wholeheartedly. I posted last week's address here too and I will try to do them every Saturday. I like when President Obama can speak directly to us without the filters of the so-called "press". And, for us, without the "YOU LIE!!" comments of those on the left who are channeling Joe Wilson.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
i agree, i rarely if ever waded into these diaries there. (2.00 / 7)
i channel Roosevelt and pretend Obama's weekly address is a fireside chat, just me and him and no middlemen.

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
Jason Linkins at HuffPo...... (2.00 / 9)
As Sequester Crisis Looms, Washington Lawmakers Fight Over Nonsense

Look, I understand. History is written by the winners, and it's good to have your story in place. But I've been watching these processes drag on for years now, and I got news for you, lawmakers. Y'all ain't won nothing in a good long time. So stop the tacky spats and the attempts to rewrite history, and get back to work.

Thanks Jan, I enjoy reading the Weekly Address.

ps  The big headline on HuffPo is " Crisis Crybabies", heh!

Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

The pundits are no better (present company excluded) (2.00 / 9)
They are falling all over themselves to claim that both sides are to blame: Democrats for insisting that there be revenue elements and Republicans for insisting that there only be cuts. Bullpuckey. The Replicans want to ignore that their position was the losing position in a national election.  

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
I read that. Yikes! That guy needs an intervention. (2.00 / 5)

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Brooks did add a ps (2.00 / 7)
to his column
Postscript: February 22, 2013
The above column was written in a mood of justified frustration over the fiscal idiocy that is about to envelop the nation. But in at least one respect I let my frustration get the better of me. It is true, as the director of the Congressional Budget Office has testified, that the administration has not proposed a specific anti-sequester proposal that can be scored or passed into law. It is not fair to suggest, as I did, that tax hikes for the rich is the sole content of the president's approach. The White House has proposed various constructive changes to spending levels and entitlement programs. These changes are not nearly adequate in my view, but they do exist, and I should have acknowledged the balanced and tough-minded elements in the president's approach.

To my mind, the kindest thing that can be said is that it is irresponsible journalism. However, am not in a kind mood.

[ Parent ]
I see. (2.00 / 5)
"I completely mistated the White House position but I stand by my complaints that the changes that the White House did not actually propose are still "not nearly adequate".

::: tips over :::

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
LOL, in his case your (2.00 / 4)
sig line,
Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.
is really appropriate! Fail.

[ Parent ]
'We just need Republicans in Washington to come around. ' (2.00 / 8)
for a start we need Congress to come back to work, that might be helpful. they have earmarked a 126 day schedule for themselves, pretty good work if you can get it.

i've seen plenty of Tea Party types interviewed on the sequester issue and they're all supporting these cuts, it's what they were elected to do (they say), shrink the size of the government regardless of the damage it inflicts. of course this meat axe doesn't go far enough because it exempts SS and Medicare.

if this goes through as written there will be hell to pay for the hapless Republicans, especially Tea Partiers in 2014, who are now more interested in eating their own than responsibly running the country.

if there is an upside, maybe we can take back the House.  

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

Of course it exempts Social Security ... Social Security has nothing to do with the budget. (2.00 / 8)
President Obama was not going to sign onto a deal like that ... even one he hoped would never be implemented.

You are right. Republicans want the "across the board cuts" because to them all government is bad and it all deserves to be cut.

So they would chop $10 million from meat inspection and $10 million from a bridge to nowhere in equal amounts even though one might lead to people's deaths, or meat rotting in warehouses, and one might lead to not being able to get to nowhere (not get anywhere?).

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Lawrence interviewed a former? (2.00 / 7)
high ranking official from the NTSB. she said the cuts and rolling furloughs will slowly begin to play havoc with airline schedules and wait times at the airports, as if it already isn't bad enough.

if that indeed happens, that will be front page news in a hurry and once Republicans get a taste of what they've done when they need to fly, maybe we'll see them change their tune.

nothing like a little personal experience, eh?

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
Yes. The family trapped in the Florida airport unable to get home from spring vacation won't be happy. (2.00 / 9)
We need to make signs and put them in front of the shuttered government offices: "This shutdown brought to you by your Republican congressperson".

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Closed due to having a Boehner (2.00 / 6)

[ Parent ]
Call a Doctor if it continues (2.00 / 6)
for more than four hours.

[ Parent ]
ok bill d, you just killed me with that zinger! LOL! (2.00 / 4)

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
The issue here (2.00 / 3)
is those affected will just blame whoever it is in the government they don't like.

1.) Obama
2.) Republicans
3.) Everybody

But that said, Republicans feel bulletproof. They've gerrymandered themselves comfortably and even if that doesn't work, who cares, elections are 20 months away.

[ Parent ]
Right now, based on polling, the American people are poised to blame Republicans. (2.00 / 3)
However, the longer it goes on, the more the screams for the president to DO SOMETHING will intensify. You are right: the time to DO SOMETHING was on November 6th and people voted the Do Nothing Congress back into power to Do Nothing for another 2 years. There is not much that the president can do.

My hope is that the Wall Street masters of the Republicans will step in and say "What the HELL are you doing?" to House leadership. When the stock market tanks, after all-time highs last week, they won't be happy to hear that congressional Republicans are saying "bring it on" to the sequester that will shrink GDP and possibly plunge us into another recession. When push comes to shove, money controls everything. We only benefit when the moneyed-people's interests coincide with our own.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
They can blame Republicans all they want (2.00 / 3)
They lost the popular vote for House races by 1.4 million votes last year and still kept a comfortable 34 seat majority in Congress. What do they care? They can't be beat with these lines

[ Parent ]
sequester (2.00 / 8)
yay.  could be just a little more than thirty days before i get furloughed.

They will eliminate good jobs.

like mine, por ejemplo.

They will leave many families who are already stretched to the limit scrambling to figure out what to do.

yeah, that too.


Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

fogiv i'm really sorry to hear this. (2.00 / 6)

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.

[ Parent ]
oh no fogiv (2.00 / 8)
Congress seems to forget that they are messing with the lives of real people.

I am hoping they come to their senses before people get hurt.

[ Parent ]
Bob Woodward makes stuff up (again) so that beltway people will think that his stories matter (2.00 / 3)
TPM Editor's Blog: Woodward Misses The Mark

Woodward's book about the debt limit crisis includes the fairly inconsequential detail that the idea of using sequestration (as opposed to other policy options) as an enforcement mechanism originated in the White House. Republicans, who voted for the Budget Control Act in overwhelming numbers, argue flimsily that this detail absolves them of all blame for the coming spending cuts, and have since tried to turn Woodward into a sort of grand arbiter of the debt limit fight.

But in this case Woodward is just dead wrong. Obama and Democrats have always insisted that a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher taxes replace sequestration.

First: "Unless a joint committee bill achieving an amount greater than $1,200,000,000,000 in deficit reduction as provided in section 401(b)(3)(B)(i)(II) of the Budget Control Act of 2011 is enacted by January 15, 2012, the discretionary spending limits listed in section 251(c) shall be revised, and discretionary appropriations and direct spending shall be reduced."

Key words: "deficit reduction." Not "spending cuts." If Republicans wanted to make sure sequestration would be replaced with spending cuts only, that would have been the place to make a stand. Some of them certainly tried. But that's not what ultimately won the day.

It has always been particularly annoying that the negotiations towards the 2011 BCA have been reported as though they were somehow the act itself. Much hair has been set on fire about how just talking about options should not be allowed.

If we don't talk about options and discuss and negotiate, we are no better than Republicans who are the party of no. And those who insist that talking = caving do not help Democrats make the case that we are the party that should be trusted to do the right thing.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

woodward is a frigging hack (2.00 / 2)
he likes to posture like he's a truth to power sort, but he's not.  he's establishment through and through, and his reporting is most frequently little more than choosing sides in an intrigue.

d-bag, basically.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
emphasis mine (2.00 / 2)
To: All DOI Employees

From: Secretary s

Subject: Update on Preparations for Potential Sequestration

I write this memorandum with a heavy heart as we prepare to implement sequestration reductions on March 1, 2013.  I maintain hope that Congress will act and reach agreement on a balanced deficit reduction plan that avoids these senseless cuts.  However, with the deadline only days away, we are finalizing our plans and have started taking immediate actions to prepare for the devastating impacts.

The President has stated that the sequester is bad policy and I agree.  The sequester is an across-the-board reduction that slashes activities without discretion and will reduce the level of direct services we provide to the American public across the country. It will have a wide range of long-term destructive consequences for our mission and programs - negatively impacting our entire workforce.  I promised you that we would share what we knew as soon as information was available.  Although we are still finalizing our implementation plans, we expect the following:

All of our 76,000 employees will face challenges in performing their mission. We are facing incredibly difficult choices in how to implement the sequester.  I want to be clear that there are no good choices - all of the choices we make have negative long-term consequences on our ability to perform our mission.  All of the tools that we are using to mitigate impacts of this indiscriminate reduction will nonetheless have impacts on your ability to perform your mission and serve the American public.  We are implementing hiring freezes, reducing overtime, reducing travel, eliminating conferences, reducing training, reducing contracts, reducing cooperative agreements, and reducing grants - each of these has a negative impact on mission delivery.

Thousands of permanent employees will be furloughed.   While we are still finalizing our implementation plans, we expect that thousands of permanent employees will be furloughed for periods of time up to 22 work days.  The specific numbers of employees and the duration will vary from bureau to bureau and program to program. You can expect to hear more next week from your bureau and office leadership about potential impacts within your organization.  Let me assure you that all affected employees will be provided at least 30 days notice prior to executing a furlough or in accordance with the designated representative collective bargaining agreement as appropriate.  We will also continue to engage in discussions with employee unions as appropriate, to ensure that any furloughs are applied in an appropriate manner meeting agency mission requirements.  If you have questions on this issue, I would encourage you to go to the Office of Personnel Management website, which has helpful information and answers to frequently asked questions regarding furloughs (found at www.opm.gov/furlough, under the "administrative furlough" section).

Many seasonal employees will be furloughed, have delayed starts, shortened employment periods, or will not be hired at all.  Our seasonal workforce is an essential part of our workforce.  Many of our seasonal employees come back year after year to perform our mission. They fight fires, provide visitor services to millions of Americans, and perform vital field and scientific work.  Many of our seasonal employees will be furloughed, have delayed starts, or face shortened employment periods. In some cases, we will not have the financial resources to hire seasonal employees at all.   All seasonal employees that are furloughed will be provided at least 30 days notice prior to execution of the furlough.  

We will be unable to hire the number of students that we had planned - halting the progress on youth hiring of the last 4 years.  Our students are a vital part of our workforce today and integral to the Interior workforce of tomorrow.  We will be unable to meet our youth hiring goals.  We also expect significant reductions to our cooperative agreements with our partners that fund youth work crews and are the foundation for our vision of a 21st Century Conservation Corps.  Our inability to hire students and enter into cooperative agreements will have lasting impacts as these young people are forced to find work elsewhere and ultimately make different long-term employment choices.  

I want to be clear that the sequester's impacts will be felt long beyond the next 7 months.  Indeed it threatens the long-term viability and execution of our mission. The sequester will compromise our ability to implement the President's all-of-the-above energy strategy due to reductions in oil, gas, and coal development programs.  Middle-class Americans who expected to spend their summer vacations at our 398 national parks, 561 refuges, and over 258 public land units will encounter reduced hours and services or even closures.  Local communities and businesses that rely on these great outdoor places to support their livelihoods will face a loss of income from reduced visitation to national parks, refuges, and public lands.   Basic community services supported by the grants and payments we make to states and counties throughout the country will be cut. We also anticipate reductions in the level of support services to Tribes, which again translates into reductions in basic services to millions of tribal members.  Given our large footprint on the American landscape and the diverse constituency our programs support, we expect that impacts to the public will be felt in hundreds of communities around the Nation.  

Over the last 4 years we have made great progress by working together to deliver on a bold agenda that is generating significant results and includes reforms of the oil and gas programs, creation of a renewable energy frontier, renewed commitments to conservation through America's Great Outdoors, a focus on job creation through greater support of the conservation economy, stronger relationships with Native Americans, and high employment levels of youth.  The sequester will roll back many of these advances and reduce the capacity we so diligently constructed.

It is my earnest hope that this senseless but avoidable crisis will be averted.  Please know that I am working around-the-clock, tirelessly advocating on your behalf and on the behalf of the millions of Americans who rely upon our services.  Thank you for your service and perseverance in this most difficult time.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

Worse yet, President Obama is the only one who is still trying to get this fixed. (2.00 / 2)
The Republicans have decided to just let the sequester take place and "see what happens".

Yes, let's push the baby's stroller onto a busy 4-lane highway just to "see what happens".

I found a list of the sequester damage by state with a link to what will happen to Wisconsin and I can see why Republicans are so blasé about this. Other than the military bases, it is mostly programs that help people that will be defunded. That will make Republicans happy.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
happy, or they're just totally indifferent (2.00 / 2)
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said 70,000 fewer children from low-income families would have access to Head Start programs. And furloughed meat inspectors could leave plants idled.

White House officials pointed to Ohio - home of House Speaker John Boehner - as one state that would be hit hard: $25.1 million in education spending and another $22 million for students with disabilities. Some 2,500 children from low-income families would also be removed from Head Start programs.

Officials said their analysis showed Kentucky would lose $93,000 in federal funding for a domestic abuse program, meaning 400 fewer victims being served in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's home state. Georgia, meanwhile, would face a $286,000 budget cut to its children's health programs, meaning almost 4,200 fewer children would receive vaccinations against measles and whooping cough.


Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
And? (2.00 / 2)
They'll blame Obama or everyone in general. Republicans know this.  

[ Parent ]
they've been at that awhile already, no? (0.00 / 0)
was is kelly ayotte i saw heard today saying something like 'now is not the time for blame' nine seconds after she blamed it all on obama.

it still surprises me (dunno why anymore, but it does) that so many people fall for such obvious 'these aren't the droids' spin like that.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]

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