Countdown to Sequestration: Obama Puts Heat on Governors

Alicia Powe

2/25/2013 9:16:00 PM - Alicia Powe
President Obama urged the nation's governors to put pressure on congressional Republicans to reach an agreement to avoid big spending cuts due to take effect at the end of the week, during his meeting with the National Governors Association (NGA) Monday.

“Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off, tens of thousands of parents will have to deal with finding child care for their children, hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings,” Obama warned. “Companies are preparing layoff notices, families are preparing to cut back on expenses, and the longer these cuts are in place, the bigger the impact will become.”

The military and government services are facing $85 billion in automatic cuts affecting troops in combat to pre-k programs unless lawmakers head off the sequester deadline on Friday. The president urged the state executives to lobby members of Congress to avoid the sequestration with a new deal to help reduce the national debt of more than $16 trillion.

“While you are in town I hope that you speak with your congressional delegation and remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake and exactly who is at risk,” he said. “These cuts do not have to happen. Congress can turn them off anytime with just a little bit of compromise.”

The White House came up with the idea for the sequester, but believed that Republicans would never let this happen because it would have severe cuts to the military, and they would never go that far.

Republicans believed that Democrats would never allow these cuts to happen to domestic programs. They say the president got the tax hike he'd been demanding at the end of last year when the rate was raised on families making more than $450,000 a year and that the 3% spending cut the sequester demands doesn't have to hurt as much as the White House says it will.

The President called for a balanced approach to the fiscal cliff, and yet the outcome was all tax increases, said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA.) last Thursday.

“President Obama has said that unless he gets a second tax hike in eight weeks, he will be forced to let criminals loose on the streets, the meat at your grocery store won’t be inspected and emergency responders will be unable to do their jobs,” he said “These are false choices, we are faced with the negative effects of the sequester because Democrats have not been able to take even the smallest step towards controlling spending.”

The White House released hundreds of pages of documents Sunday calculating the state by state damage the sequester will cost, outlining exactly how these cuts will harm middle-class families in each state. John Boehner’s home state of Ohio would see cuts close to $25.1 million in education cuts and $22 million cut for programs from disabled students.

Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky would lose $93,000 for domestic abuse programs. Cuts in the Republican strong hold of Georgia would mean 4300 children would not be vaccinated against whooping cough and measles.

Polls show republicans may take the blunt of the blame for the sequester. Both sides are turning the budget battle into a political battle over who is to blame and both underestimated how far the other was going to take this thing.

The President will begin showcasing the impact of sequester cuts on individual states Tuesday, when he travels to Virginia where 90,000 civilian defense workers would be furloughed one day a week.