President Barack Obama today doubled down on his sequester strategy, and promised weeks of accumulating pain for the public until the GOP cries uncle on taxes.
“If Congress comes to its senses — a week from now, a month from now, three months from now — then there’s a lot of open running room there for us to grow our economy much more quickly and to advance the agenda of the American people dramatically,” he told reports at a midday press conference today.
“So this is a temporary stop on what I believe is the long-term, outstanding prospect for American growth and greatness,” he claimed.
But he tried to head off GOP charges that he’s putting the government on strike until he squeezes extra taxes from the public.
“Let’s be clear,” he insisted. “None of this is necessary. It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made. They’ve allowed these cuts to happen, because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit.”
He also posed as the reassuring leader of the nation, even though his hard-nosed strategy may cause furloughs and pay cuts for many government employees, plus much inconvenience for local employers and parents.
“We will get through this,” said Obama, who pushed the sequester into the 2011 budget deal, and who spent the last few weeks predicting great pain for the public.
“This is not going to be a apocalypse, I think as some people have said. It’s just dumb. … It’s going to hurt individual people and it’s going to hurt the economy overall.”
“The good news is the American people are strong and they’re resilient … but Washington sure isn’t making it easy,” he claimed.
The sequester will trim the $85 billion from federal spending of approximately $3.8 trillion in 2013. That’s roughly 2 percent, and it will leave 2013 spending slightly above 2012’s spending levels.
However, the spending cuts have been concentrated into the last few months of spending by the Pentagon and civilian agencies, forcing them to slice 10 percent or 5 percent from the last six months of their 2013 spending.
The concentration was partly caused by Obama, who insisted that the sequester be delayed from January to March.
Obama also used the sequester cuts to hide the impact of his own policies, by blaming the economy’s poor economic performance on the GOP’s opposition to taxes.