En route Tuesday to campaign appearances in Texas, Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One Obama is urging Republicans to compromise to avoid the drastic cuts worked out when the congressional supercommittee failed to come up with a plan last year.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate Budget Committee and former member of the defunct supercommittee, said Monday she'd be willing to let the debate continue into next year to prevent Republicans from locking in tax cuts for the wealthy. House Speaker John Boehner said allowing the cuts to take effect would "tank" the economy.
The Aerospace Industries Association issued a report Tuesday saying the sequestration cuts could cost 2 million jobs and trim $215 billion from the gross domestic product, Politico reported.
"If [the cuts] are allowed to occur as currently scheduled, the long-term consequences will permanently alter the course of the U.S. economy's performance, changing its competitive position in the global economy," the report says.
Earnest said Obama believes there are ways of dealing with the deficit that don't "involve historic funding cuts that are included in the sequester."
"There is bipartisan agreement about the fact that the cuts that are included in the so-called sequester would not be good for our economy, and you've even heard the secretary of defense raising concerns about the impact that it could have on national security. Democrats and Republicans -- a majority of Republicans -- voted for the sequester in an effort to force Congress to act to reach a long-term solution to our deficit challenges.
"The president has put forward an approach that mirrors the approach that has been taken by a wide range of bipartisan commissions that have looked at this problem, and the only thing that is standing in the way are congressional Republicans who are fighting tooth and nail to protect tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans."
Asked about reported meetings between Republicans and former Vice President Dick Cheney, Earnest said he finds it "odd" Republicans would be taking budget advice from somebody "who famously declared that 'deficits don't matter.'"
"The president obviously has a different view, which is that deficits do matter, which is why the president has laid out a balanced approach to dealing with our long-term deficit challenges."