Sequester 'Not Fair,' Says the President Who Signed Off On It

By Susan Jones | February 27, 2013 | 6:54 AM EST

Standing in front of a ships propeller, President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about automatic defense budget cuts, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

( - The mandatory reductions in anticipated federal spending, required by the Budget Control Act that President Obama signed in 2001, are "not fair," the president said on Tuesday.

“They’re not smart. They’re not fair. They’re a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen,” the president told workers at Newport News Shipbuilding.

The president invoked the concept of fairness twice in his speech. The second time, he used it to buttress his argument for more taxes on the wealthy:

"We can’t just cut our way to prosperity," Obama told shipbuilders. "We can't ask seniors and working families like yours to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and the most powerful. We're not going to grow the middle class just by shifting the cost of health care or college onto families that are already struggling, or forcing communities to lay off more teachers or cops or firefighters or shipbuilders, and then folks who are doing really well don’t have to do anything more. That’s not fair, and it's not good for the economy."

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Obama's solution to the automatic, indiscriminate spending reductions (the sequester)  is more tax increases, something Republicans so far have refused to go along with because they just approved tax-rate hikes demanded by Obama and his fellow Democrats.

As Republicans back in Washington railed against the president's constant campaigning instead of negotiating, Obama told shipyard workers to "keep up the pressure" on Congress. "If you stand up and speak out, Congress will listen," he said.

Obama described himself as open to compromise and  negotiation: "If the Republicans in Congress don’t like every detail of my proposal, which I don't expect them to, I’ve told them my door is open. I am more than willing to negotiate. I want to compromise.  There's no reason why we can't come together and find a sensible way to reduce the deficit over the long term without affecting vital services, without hurting families, without impacting outstanding facilities like this one and our national defense."

Obama also told shipbuilders, "I'm not interested in spin; I'm not interested in playing a blame game. At this point, all I'm interested in is just solving problems."

Shortly before Obama said he's not interested in playing a blame game, he indicated that Congress should be blamed if the sequester produces another recession: "Now, all of you, the American people, you’ve worked too hard for too long rebuilding and digging our way out of the financial crisis back in 2007 and 2008 just to see Congress cause another one."

Obama said after four years as president, "you get pretty humble."

"You’d think maybe you wouldn't, but actually you become more humble. You realize what you don't know. You realize all the mistakes you’ve made. But you also realize you can't do things by yourself. That's not how our system works. You’ve got to have the help and the goodwill of Congress, and what that means is you’ve got to make sure that constituents of members of Congress are putting some pressure on them, making sure they’re doing the right thing, putting an end to some of these political games."

Obama certainly is not generating any goodwill among House Republicans.

House Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday he doesn't think the president wants to find a solution to the sequester:

"The president has been traveling all over the country, and today going down to Newport News in order to use our military men and women as a prop in yet another campaign rally to support his tax hikes," Boehner told a news conference on Capitol Hill.

“Now the American people know if the president gets more money, they’re just going to spend it.  The fact is is that he’s gotten his tax hikes. It’s time to focus on the real problem here in Washington, and that is spending.

“The president has known for 16 months that the sequester was looming out there when the super committee failed to come to an agreement.  And so for 16 months the president’s been traveling all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders in order to try to forge an agreement over there in order to move a bill.  We have a moved a bill in the House twice, we should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.”