The White House
In a statement from the briefing room Tuesday, President Obama explained that while our economy is headed in the right direction, looming automatic budget cuts will cost jobs and slow down our recovery.
But, those deep, indiscriminate cuts to job-creating investments and defense spending, also known as the sequester, don’t have to happen, the President said. He’s already worked with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to cut the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion through a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, but there’s more to be done to meet the $4 trillion in deficit reduction needed to stabilize our debt.
“I think this balanced mix of spending cuts and tax reform is the best way to finish the job of deficit reduction,” the President said.
The reforms to Medicare and other entitlements the President proposed during the fiscal cliff negotiations are still on the table, he said. “These reforms would reduce our government’s bills by reducing the cost of health care, not shifting all those costs on to middle-class seniors, or the working poor, or children with disabilities, but nevertheless, achieving the kinds of savings that we’re looking for”
“But in order to achieve the full $4 trillion in deficit reductions that is the stated goal of economists and our elected leaders, these modest reforms in our social insurance programs have to go hand-in-hand with a process of tax reform, so that the wealthiest individuals and corporations can’t take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans,” President Obama said.
If Congress can’t finish a full budget by March 1, when the sequester is scheduled to take effect, President Obama called on lawmakers to at least pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the the economically damaging effects of the automatic cuts.
“There is no reason that the jobs of thousands of Americans who work in national security or education or clean energy, not to mention the growth of the entire economy should be put in jeopardy just because folks in Washington couldn’t come together to eliminate a few special interest tax loopholes or government programs that we agree need some reform,” he said.
Statement from Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita:
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, commented Tuesday on the President’s expected proposal to replace the sequester.
“We welcome President Obama to the table, perhaps better late than never. We are, however, concerned that his proposal will include the same mix of tax increases and defense cuts that Democrats have advocated for in the past. We must be clear. This approach is neither responsible nor balanced.
“America’s military has absorbed $487 billion in defense cuts under President Obama, with $500 billion yet to come with sequestration. Refusing to consider reforms to the mandatory spending that is driving our debt crisis, while using our troops as a piggy bank to keep unsustainable spending programs on life support, will have both fiscal and strategic consequences. We urge the President to lead, rather than loop endlessly around a beaten path. It is in his power to forge a deal that reigns in our debt without levying more taxes on struggling Americans, and without hollowing out an at-war military.
“We hope that the President will present a serious proposal today, one that does not force the military into sequestration. We will continue working as well, making every effort to resolve a crisis that could do unprecedented harm to our military.”