President Obama on Tuesday implored Congress to pass a short-term package of spending cuts and tax increases to avert a series of much larger spending cuts scheduled for next month.
“The good news is this doesn’t have to happen,” President Obama told reporters during a short appearance in the White House briefing room. “There is no reason that the jobs of thousands of Americans … not to mention the growth of the economy, should be put in jeopardy.”
The president didn't take questions from reporters.
The call for more tax increases, however, did not sit well with Republicans, who say the president should focus solely on reducing government spending.
“President Obama first proposed the sequester and insisted it become law,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes.”
Obama is looking to put off for a few more months the so-called sequester, a $1 trillion package of across-the-board budget cuts that economists say could undo fragile economic gains. The Pentagon would incur roughly half of those reductions in spending, which is a particular concern to the Washington region.
The White House contends that lawmakers don’t have enough time to reach a “balanced” solution before the March deadline. Congress already agreed to delay the spending cuts by two months to avoid the “fiscal cliff” at the start of the year, but need to strike a new deal to reduce the deficit before March 1.
However, an increasing number of Republicans have shown a willingness to absorb the deep spending cuts, saying the country needs to make a down payment on a soaring national debt.
Obama insists that he remains committed to deficit reduction and that his original offer to Boehner to bring down the national debt remains on the table. However, he added, “We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.”