Obama to call for taxes to avert March sequester

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama will call Tuesday for new taxes and some spending curbs to avoid a series of automatic deep cuts to domestic and defense spending that he approved to resolve a 2011 fiscal crisis.

He’s expected to argue at 1:15 a.m. EST that the sequester will further damage the economy, which actually shrank by 0.1 percent during the last three months of 2012.

Obama’s new proposal comes one day after he missed the legal deadline for submitting a 2014 budget request, and five weeks after he approved a measure to avoid the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” that raised taxes on investors and employers while postponing the sequester cuts for two months, until March.

GOP activists scorched Obama’s new effort to trim the nation’s $1 trillion per year deficit.

“When it comes to the sequester, O has taken every position possible — except to get gvt spending under control,” said a tweet from Ari Fleischer, a former spokesman for George W. Bush.

The sequester cuts, amounting to $1.2 trillion over 10 years, are to be imposed equally on defense programs and domestic spending programs.

In 2013, the request would cut roughly $50 billion from defense programs supported by the GOP, and $50 billion from the domestic programs favored by Democrats.

For several months, Obama has cited that deal as evidence that he is trying to curb the nation’s $1 trillion per year deficit. The annual deficit has ballooned the nation’s debt from $11 trillion in 2009 to $16 trillion in 2013.

But now Obama is expected to describe the agreed-on cuts as deep and indiscriminate, and to say they will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The nation’s unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent in January. Roughly 20 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed.

Today’s speech marks the opening rounds in yet another fiscal crisis, caused by deep political and ideological gaps between Obama and the GOP majority in the House. The periodic crises have damaged Obama’s clout, but have also lowered public support for the GOP’s House majority.

Several GOP legislators have said they expect Obama will try to blame the GOP for these crises, in the hope that Democrats can gain a majority of House seats during the mid-term 2014 elections.

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