WASHINGTON — With automatic budget cuts set to hit by the end of the week, President Barack Obama on Monday again warned of dire consequences and urged Congress to find a way to compromise in the next four days.
“These cuts do not have to happen,” Obama told a gathering of the nation’s governors at the White House. “Congress can turn them off at any time with just a little bit of compromise.”
The president acknowledged that the effects of the $85 billion in automatic cuts — known as sequestration — would not “all be felt” when the cuts become law Friday. But he said that the effects of the cuts would grow over time. “The longer these cutbacks are in place, the bigger the impact will be,” he told the governors. He also urged them to talk to lawmakers and “remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake.”
But the White House and Republicans in Congress have shown no evidence of plans to actually negotiate in an effort to avert the automatic cuts.
Obama’s administration has spent the past week painting an increasingly bleak picture of life in America after the cuts: jobs lost, government contracts cut, Federal Aviation Administration facilities closed, child care made scarce. Over the weekend, the administration released what it said would be the effects of cuts, state by state.
In the meeting with the governors, Obama said the impact could be avoided if Republicans would be willing to embrace some increase in revenue by closing tax loopholes that grant breaks to the wealthy and to corporations. In exchange, Obama said that Democrats would be willing to accept what he called modest changes in entitlement programs like Medicare. He said that Congress should also agree to new spending on infrastructure and preschool, and that such programs would save money in the long run. “There are always going to be areas where we have some genuine disagreements,” Obama said. “There are more areas where we can do a lot more cooperating than, I think, we’ve seen over the last several years.”