Obama Urges Congress to Avoid "Harmful" Automatic Spending Cuts

The president says allowing the cuts to take effect will harm the economy and millions of workers.

Posted: 02/05/2013 02:12 PM EST

With just weeks to go before March 1, when a series of automatic spending cuts are expected to take effect, President Obama pressed lawmakers to quickly pass a short-term package of cuts and tax revenue increases. Speaking from the White House Briefing Room, the president said that major cuts to programs like defense and education "would cost us jobs and significantly slow down our recovery."

Obama pointed to areas of common ground such as eliminating tax loopholes and deductions that benefit only the wealthiest individuals and corporations, and said he's still committed to a long-term deal that would include major debt reduction and reforms to the tax code and entitlement programs. But, he added, it may not be possible for Congress to complete a budget by the March deadline, so they should pass a smaller package to delay the automatic cuts, known as the sequester.

"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.

The president also said that the economy will continue moving in the right direction if Washington lawmakers can avoid making "self-inflicted wounds" to it.

Sequestration would involve cuts to programs like Head Start, transportation and housing that Rep. Karen Bass, who sits on the House Budget Committee, says would have "severe repercussions" for Black communities.

"African-Americans are at risk of facing even greater economic uncertainty at a time when unemployment rates remain higher for them than other groups," she told BET.com. "In the last five years, African-American families with children witnessed nearly all of the resources they worked for and saved wiped out, and most are now living in debt, so the last thing they need is for Congress to drop the ball in finding a balanced way to deal with the sequester."

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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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