Obama will meet with congressional leaders on spending cuts Friday

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:37pm EST

U.S. President Barack Obama walks on the South Lawn after stepping off Marine One in the rain after returning to the White House in Washington from Newport News, Virginia, February 26, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama walks on the South Lawn after stepping off Marine One in the rain after returning to the White House in Washington from Newport News, Virginia, February 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will meet with top congressional leaders on Friday to discuss the deep, automatic U.S. government spending cuts slated to go into effect that day, congressional and White House officials said on Wednesday.

Obama is set to meet with Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader.

The meeting would be the first between the leaders this year, despite weeks of haggling over whether and how Washington could avoid the cuts known as the "sequester," which the White House has warned will cause damage to U.S. economic growth.

"The meeting Friday is an opportunity for us to visit with the president about how we can all keep our commitment to reduce Washington spending," McConnell said in a statement.

"We can either secure those reductions more intelligently, or we can do it the president's way with across-the-board cuts. But one thing Americans simply will not accept is another tax increase to replace spending reductions we already agreed to," he said.

Obama has pressed for a deal to avoid the cuts that includes closing tax loopholes that affect wealthier Americans. Republicans, who agreed to an increase in tax rates for households making more than $450,000 a year as part of the "fiscal cliff" deal that went into effect earlier this year, want a deal that focuses solely on cuts in government spending.

One congressional Republican aide criticized the White House for calling the meeting after the cuts, which are split between social programs cherished by Democrats and defense spending championed by Republicans, were slated to go into effect.

"If the President is serious about stopping the sequester, why did he schedule a meeting on Tuesday for Friday when the sequester hits at midnight on Thursday?" the aide said. "Either someone needs to buy the White House a calendar, or this is just a - belated - farce. They ought to at least pretend to try."

A White House official confirmed the Friday meeting but did not provide further details on the reason for its timing.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Editing by Eric Beech)

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Comments (45)
Whatsgoingon wrote:
“The meeting Friday is an opportunity for us to visit with the president about how we can all keep our commitment to reduce Washington spending,” LOL they set up the “cliff” first then worked overtime to kick it down the road. Spending skyrocketed since 2008 and we are piling up $1T+ debt every year. If $85B pull-back is “devastating”, how funny is it to even use the word “cut”?

Feb 27, 2013 10:22am EST  --  Report as abuse
jaham wrote:
This sequester was signed into law a year and a half ago and Republicans have passed numerous legislation since then to avert it (See: HR 5652, HR 4966, HR 6688).

The Senate has refused to hold a vote or even acknowledge this legislation from the House. This is the exact same thing that has been happening in the budgeting process where the House has passed a budget proposal every year Obama has been in office, but the Democratic controlled Senate has refused to pass a budget since April 29th, 2009.

Although Obama and the liberal media like to blame Republicans for legislating at the last minute, it is the Senate who has waited until the last Thursday before the sequester takes effect to have a cloture vote on S.388 – their sequester replacement bill that replaces half of the cuts with more tax increases.

So, as it currently stands, the Senate has passed NOTHING to avoid the sequester!

While Obama and Reid and every other ignorant liberal continue to chide the House Republicans for inaction, the facts prove that the House has taken action while Obama and his Democratic friends have passed no alternative bill to avoid the sequester that they signed into law!

I sure hope Obama’s minions will wake up to such realities before this country encounters a debt crisis like we’ve observed in Europe.

Feb 27, 2013 10:28am EST  --  Report as abuse
Harry079 wrote:
Is lunch being served?

Feb 27, 2013 10:37am EST  --  Report as abuse
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