Politics
President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Lansdowne, Va., Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Lansdowne, Va., Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)  

Obama threatens popular spending programs, blames GOP

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

But Obama told Democrats Thursday that he expected to win a high-profile fight over the sequester cuts.

The GOP wants to cut Medicare and Social Security, education and aid for parents with disabled kids, he said. But the cuts “shouldn’t be on the backs of seniors … [or] young people trying to get a college education, [or] parents who are trying to give their kids a better start in life,” he declared.

He said he wants “to close some tax loopholes and deductions that the average American can’t take advantage of … [and] that is an argument I’m more than willing to engage in.”

White House officials pushed that message today in a off-camera meeting with reporters, and via a message identifying the high-profile programs that would be cut.

“Many Republicans in Congress refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more by closing tax loopholes. … Our economy is poised to take off but we cannot afford a self-inflicted wound from Washington,” the statement claimed, which sought to rename the sequester as “a sequester on the middle class.”

“70,000 young children would be kicked off Head Start, 10,000 teacher jobs would be put at risk, and funding for up to 7,200 special education teachers, aides, and staff could be cut,” said the White House statement.

“The automatic cuts triggered by a sequester would reduce loan guarantees to small businesses by up to $540 million. … If a sequester takes effect, up to 2,100 fewer food inspections could occur, putting families at risk and costing billions in lost food production … the public could suffer more foodborne illness, such as the recent salmonella in peanut butter outbreak and the E. coli illnesses linked to organic spinach, as well as cost the food and agriculture sector millions of dollars in lost production volume,” said Obama’s note.

“Progress towards cures would be delayed and several thousand researchers could lose their jobs,” said the note.

“If a sequester takes effect, up to 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children could go untreated,” it claimed.

“The FBI and other law enforcement entities would see a reduction in capacity equivalent to more than 1,000 Federal agents … approximately 1,000 fewer criminal cases nationwide would be prosecuted, and some civil litigation defending the financial interests of the United States would not be pursued, potentially costing taxpayers billions of dollars … [they cut would ] eliminate funding for State and local grants that support firefighter positions and State and local emergency management personnel,” said the note.

“The effective percentage reductions will be approximately 9 percent for nondefense programs and 13 percent for defense programs … [the] large and arbitrary cuts will have severe impacts across the government,” said the Feb. 8 statement.

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