President Barack Obama said Friday he remains hopeful that Congress will reach an agreement to avoid the automatic government spending cuts due to go into effect at the end of the month but noted that he has to convince lawmakers about the potential negative impacts of the cuts.
Speaker to reporters following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama warned about the adverse impact the cuts would have "on families, on teachers, on parents who are reliant on Head Start programs, on our military readiness, on mental health services, on medical research."
Obama said, "I've also been very clear that there's an alternative, which is for us to take the kind of balanced approach that I've presented, where we have more strategic cuts on programs we don't need and we close some tax loopholes that are taken advantage of only by the well-connected and the well-off."
While the president also said he does not think it is inevitable that the cuts will go into effect, he said he has to persuade lawmakers that the automatic spending cuts are not a smart way to reduce the deficit when the country is starting to see real signs of economic recovery taking root.
"Hope springs eternal," Obama said. "And I will just keep on making my case not only to Congress, but more importantly the American people to take a smart approach to deficit reduction and do it in a way that doesn't endanger our economy and endanger jobs."
Unless Congress acts, approximately $85 billion in automatic cuts to both defense and domestic spending are due to go into effect on March 1st.
While both parties have raised concerns about the impact of the automatic spending cuts, familiar disagreements over taxes and entitlement reforms have prevented any progress on averting the cuts.
Obama and other Democrats continue to call for a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction that includes both spending cuts and tax reforms, but Republicans have argued that the revenue issue was addressed by the fiscal cliff agreement.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org