UPDATE 1-Obama turns to local TV to press Republicans to avert cuts

Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:32pm EST

Related Topics

* Speaks to eight TV anchors from across America

* Pentagon to describe plans for layoffs

* Obama will also talk about infrastructure spending plan

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama turned to local television stations across the United States on Wednesday to increase public pressure on congressional Republicans to avert $85 billion in budget cuts set to begin in nine days.

Obama scheduled interviews with television stations in eight media markets, most of which have a strong military presence, on a day when the Pentagon described its plans for laying off some 800,000 civilian employees for 22 days to save money.

"These automatic spending cuts were designed to be avoided. The idea was that Democrats and Republicans would come together with a sensible deficit-reduction program," Obama said in an interview with Boston ABC affiliate WCVB.

The interviews are part of an administration strategy to lay blame for the job losses on Republicans, who control the House of Representatives.

Unless Obama and Republicans reach a deal, about $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts will kick in at the beginning of March and continue through Sept. 30 as part of a decade-long $1.2 trillion budget savings plan agreed by policymakers in 2011.

Not even the operations of the White House will be spared, an administration official said. "We anticipate significant disruption to our operations and mission, which could include furloughs," said the official, who did not provide further details.

Obama has said he wants Congress to end tax loopholes enjoyed mainly by the wealthy to buy lawmakers enough time to pass a budget, but Republicans are insisting on deeper spending cuts to reduce the $16 trillion national debt.

Obama also talked to local TV news anchors in Baltimore, Oklahoma City, San Francisco, Honolulu, San Antonio, Charleston, South Carolina, and Wichita, Kansas.

Congress is not in session this week and is not expected to reach a deal by the March 1 deadline. Instead, lawmakers will work on a deal to fund government agencies later in the month.

The battle over "sequestration" - the name for the automatic spending cuts - is the latest in a series of fights between Obama and Republicans over the nation's deficit.

Obama also has tried to lay the groundwork for a broader economic strategy and argued the government should invest in infrastructure and manufacturing to help address a stubbornly high unemployment rate.

Obama was also slated to talk to the news anchors about a $50 billion spending plan he discussed in his State of the Union address last week that the White House is calling "Fix It First."

Most of that money would go to roads, bridges and airports where officials have postponed maintenance projects, the White House said. But any new spending will face an uphill battle in Congress.

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Comments (12)
rbpierce wrote:
He already got his stimulus money to build roads and bridges.
He already got his tax hikes, on the entire middle class.

It’s time to cut spending. Obama suggested the sequester in 2011 as his means of promising tax cuts in the future for spending increases then. Well, it’s the future.

Obama hasn’t released a budget that could gain a single vote (Democrat or Republican). He hasn’t volunteered what he thinks should be cut. This is the sequester Obama wanted. Well, he’s going to get it.

Mr President, if you’d pay half as much attention to leading as you do to playing political games, this country would be in much better shape.

Feb 20, 2013 7:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
loops808 wrote:
No mention that sequestration was the White House’s idea? It was the White House and Democrats that put the big cuts to the military in this sequestation. Let’s be trufthful, this president has a terrible track record. Obama and a Democratically controlled Senate and House could not pass a budget! Obama’s budget that was submitted to COngress got no votes! Not one Democrat voted for his budget. The sequestation is Obama’s plan and he must own it.

Feb 20, 2013 7:12pm EST  --  Report as abuse
gripp13ndk wrote:
Our ever campaigning so called leader is once again
playing the blame game. He refuses to take responsibility
for the “sequestration” that he came up with. Of course
his believers will back him and he is counting on others
to have a short memory. At this point every word that he
speaks is a lie ! This is his mess, let him own it !

Feb 20, 2013 7:14pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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