WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, intensifying pressure on congressional Republicans, said Friday that lawmakers still have "the opportunity to make the right decisions" and avert a series of mandatory budget cuts by March 1.
Despite little sign of a deal emerging with Republicans, Obama said he does not believe it is inevitable that the $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts will take effect. He said finding a way to avert the cuts should be a "no-brainer" for congressional lawmakers.
Speaking in the Oval Office during a meeting with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama said that in contrast to earlier Washington fiscal fights, he didn't believe the economic impact of the cuts would threaten the world financial market. But he added that if the U.S. economy slows as a result of the cuts, the global economy could suffer as well.
The fight between Obama and congressional Republicans has centered on a seemingly intractable issue: Obama says he wants a more methodical and restrained plan for budget-cutting and one that would necessitate an additional tax increase. GOP lawmakers and their leaders, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, for the most part have come together to oppose any new revenue measures.