Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Obama rejects Republican plan for more say in spending cuts

President Barack Obama tells workers Tuesday that across-the-board cuts could idle their employer, Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. “You don’t want to have to choose between, ‘Let’s see, do I close funding for the disabled kid or the poor kid? Do I close this Navy shipyard or some other one?’ ”

Associated Press

President Barack Obama tells workers Tuesday that across-the-board cuts could idle their employer, Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. “You don’t want to have to choose between, ‘Let’s see, do I close funding for the disabled kid or the poor kid? Do I close this Navy shipyard or some other one?’ ”

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama brushed off a Republican plan Tuesday to give him flexibility to allocate $85 billion in looming spending cuts, wanting no part of a deal that would force him to choose between the bad and the terrible.

Three days out and no closer to any agreement, both parties sought to saddle the other with the blame for the painful ramification of the across-the-board cuts set to kick in Friday. Obama accused Republicans of steadfastly refusing to compromise, while the top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, chided Obama's effort to "fan the flames of catastrophe."

McConnell and other top Republicans were lining up behind a plan that wouldn't replace the cuts but would give Obama's agency heads, such as incoming Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, greater discretion in distributing the cuts. The idea is that money could be transferred from lower-priority accounts to others that fund air traffic control or meat inspection.

But Obama, appearing at a Virginia shipbuilding site that he said would sit idle should the cuts go through, rejected the idea, saying there's no smart way to cut such a large chunk from the budget over just seven months — the amount of time left in the fiscal year.

"You don't want to have to choose between, 'Let's see, do I close funding for the disabled kid or the poor kid? Do I close this Navy shipyard or some other one?' " Obama said. "You can't gloss over the pain and the impact it's going to have on the economy."

Giving the Obama administration more authority could take pressure off of Congress to address the sequester. But the White House is also keenly aware that it would give Republicans an opening to blame Obama, instead of themselves, for every unpopular cut made.

Not all Republicans were on board, either.

"We'll say, 'Mr. President, it is now up to you to find this $85 billion in savings,' and we'll say it's to make it easier for you, but every decision he'll make, we'll criticize," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina acknowledged in a CNN interview Monday.

The White House has warned the cuts could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms to meat inspections. The cuts would slash domestic and defense spending, leading to forced unpaid days off for hundreds of thousands of workers.

The impact won't be immediate. Federal workers would be notified next week that they will have to take up to a day off every week without pay, but the furloughs won't start for a month due to notification requirements. That will give negotiators some breathing room to work on a deal.

Although Obama was to discuss the cuts among other topics Tuesday in a White House meeting with Graham and GOP Sen. John McCain, there were no indications that negotiations between Obama and congressional leaders were under way. Dampening hopes for a compromise was a key disagreement about whether new tax revenue, by way of closing loopholes and deductions, should be included in any deal, as Obama has insisted.

In the Republican-controlled House, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said he'd already done his part, complaining that the House twice passed bills to replace the cuts with more targeted reductions. "We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their a-- and begins to do something," Boehner told reporters.

Senate Democrats have prepared a measure that would forestall the automatic cuts through the end of the year, replacing them with longer-term cuts to the Pentagon and cash payments to farmers, and by installing a minimum 30 percent tax rate on income exceeding $1 million. But that plan is virtually certain to be toppled by a GOP-led filibuster vote later this week.

Recharging his effort to lay out the stark consequences for letting the cuts take effect, Obama traveled Tuesday to eastern Virginia, where he warned that workers at the state's largest industrial employer, Newport News Shipbuilding, would sit idle. He stood in front of a massive submarine propeller, with workers watching from the cavernous assembly floor and said the cuts would mean construction and repair of Navy ships would be delayed or canceled altogether. "These cuts are wrong. They're not smart, they're not fair. They're a self-inflicted wound that doesn't have to happen," Obama said.

The highly staged visit earned him a harsh rebuke from Republicans, who claimed Obama was on a campaign to scare Americans into raising taxes.



Obama rejects Republican plan for more say in spending cuts 02/26/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 10:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Restaurant review: Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights should focus on mom-and-pop pharmacy vibe

    Food & Dining

    By Laura Reiley

    Times Food Critic

    TAMPA

    Sometimes, the more time you have with a project, the more complicated it gets. I started hearing about Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights about 18 months ago. It was the vision of Ujwal Patel, a pharmacist;

    Mortar & Pestle opened in Seminole Heights in Tampa in August. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington on growing up in a 'cult' and how to tell a good story

    Events

    Glynn Washington spent much of his last visit to Tampa preparing his soul for the impending apocalypse. He was assured it was coming any day.

    Glynn Washington, the creator and host of NPR's "Snap Judgment," will bring his live show to the Tampa Theatre on Sept. 29. 
Photo courtesy Snap Judgment
  3. Anthony Weiner sentenced to 21 months in sexting case

    National

    NEW YORK — Former Rep. Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl in a case that rocked Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House in the closing days of the race and may have cost her the presidency.

    Former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) arrives at federal court for his sentencing hearing in a sexting scandal, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in New York. [Associated Press]
  4. Kiran and Pallavi Patel commit $200 million for Clearwater medical school

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Tampa Bay philanthropists Dr. Kiran Patel and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel are spending $200 million to create and promote a Tampa Bay regional campus for the private Nova Southeastern University.

    Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel, prolific Tampa Bay philanthropists, are putting up $200 million to create and run a new medical school under Nova Southeastern University. Here is a rendering of the proposed campus [Courtesy of Southestern Noval University}
  5. Lightning to retire Vinny Lecavalier's No. 4 in February

    Blogs

    When Marty St. Louis became the first Lightning player to have his jersey retired back in January, it was hard not to think that former captain Vinny Lecavalier would be the next one.

    Vinny Lecavalier takes the ice before a 2010 game against the Florida Panthers.