President Barack Obama looked to put additional pressure on Congress to address the looming sequester on Monday in remarks to the state governors.
In a meeting of the National Governors Association at the White House, Obama asked the governors to contact their members of Congress regarding the potential impact of the automatic government spending cuts currently due to go into effect at the end of the month.
Unless Congress acts, approximately $85 billion in automatic cuts to both defense and domestic spending are due to go into effect on March 1st, and the White House has warned that the spending cuts threaten thousands of jobs and the economic security of the middle class.
The automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester, were implemented as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 in order to push lawmakers to compromise on a broader budget agreement.
"So while you are in town, I hope that you speak with your congressional delegation and remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake and exactly who is at risk," Obama told the governors.
He added, "Because here's the thing -- these cuts do not have to happen. Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise."
Obama indicated that he would be willing to compromise on reforms to Medicare but continued to call on Republicans to accept a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction that includes both spending cuts and tax reforms.
"We also need Republicans to adopt the same approach to tax reform that Speaker Boehner championed just two months ago," Obama said.
He added, "Under our concept of tax reform, nobody's rates would go up, but we'd be able to reduce the deficit by making some tough, smart spending cuts and getting rid of wasteful tax loopholes that benefit the well-off and the well-connected."
However, Republicans has thus far steadfastly refused to consider higher taxes, arguing that the issue of increased revenues was addressed by the fiscal cliff agreement, which raised tax rates on families making more than $450,000 a year.
In an appearance on Al Sharpton's radio show last Thursday, Obama claimed that rejecting higher taxes on wealthy Americans is what binds the GOP together at this point.
"My sense is that their basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations and they would prefer to see these kinds of cuts that could slow down our recovery over closing tax loopholes," Obama told Sharpton.
Meanwhile, Boehner spent much of an op-ed in last Wednesday's Wall Street Journal attempting to link the sequester to Obama, calling it a "product of the president's own failed leadership."
Boehner and other Republicans have repeatedly noted that the GOP-controlled House passed two measures to replace the sequester last year, but the legislation was never dealt with by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Democrats rejected the proposals, because they shifted the burden entirely away from defense spending and on to domestic programs such as Medicaid and food stamps.
by RTT Staff Writer
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