(CNSNews.com) – As the deadline approaches for the automatic cuts in federal spending that President Barack Obama signed into law when Congress agreed to increase the debt limit by $2.4 trillion in August 2011, President Barack Obama is invoking bipartisanship and calling on Congress to pass new legislation that repeals those cuts and replaces them with smaller ones.
“I know that a full budget may not be finished before March 1 and, unfortunately, that's the date when a series of harmful automatic cuts to job-creating investments and defense spending -- also known as the sequester -- are scheduled to take effect,” Obama told reporters on Tuesday.
“So if Congress can’t act immediately on a bigger package, if they can't get a bigger package done by the time the sequester is scheduled to go into effect, then I believe that they should at least pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for a few more months until Congress finds a way to replace these cuts with a smarter solution,” said Obama.
“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,” Obama continued.
"So let me just repeat: Our economy right now is headed in the right direction, and it will stay that way as long as there aren't any more self-inflicted wounds coming out of Washington. So let's keep on chipping away at this problem together, as Democrats and Republicans, to give our workers and our businesses the support that they need to thrive in the weeks and months ahead."
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says the sequester was President Obama’s idea: "He proposed it and he insisted it be a part of the 2011 debt limit deal. House Republicans have voted twice to replace the arbitrary and harmful sequestration cuts with targeted, common-sense spending reductions that do not threaten our national security. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats rejected those plans, offering no replacement solutions of their own.
“While it is encouraging to see that the president now agrees that his sequestration plan is ‘harmful’ and ‘economically damaging,’ his call for higher taxes on hard-working American families will only serve to discourage economic growth."
Rep. Howard Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, issued a joint statement in response to the president.
“America's military has absorbed $487 billion in defense cuts under President Obama, with $500 billion yet to come with sequestration,” read the statement.
“Refusing to consider reforms to the mandatory spending [on entitlements] 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,” the statement continued. “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.”Under the terms of the sequestration deal reached in 2011 – the Budget Control Act -- the Office of Management and Budget is responsible for coming up with $1.2 trillion in cuts in discretionary appropriations and mandatory spending -- divided equally among defense and non-defense -- to take place between 2013 and 2021.