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Obama: 'Imperative' to avoid sequester

Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:33 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama believes "it is imperative that we avoid" across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect next month, the White House said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in his daily briefing Thursday Obama's proposal this week -- to enact short-term debt-reduction legislation so Congress can take more time to work on a larger package -- remains on the table, even though House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, "walked away" from it.

Carney said Obama is "particularly concerned these days, as you heard from him the other day, about the apparent willingness -- almost seeming desire -- by some Republicans to allow the sequester to kick in." Obama and congressional Democrats say allowing across-the-board cuts in defense and non-defense spending would cause the loss of large numbers of jobs and hurt the middle class.

"He also believes that it is imperative that we avoid the sequester, which kicks in in just a few weeks," Carney said.

He said "a smaller scale" package of spending cuts and increased revenues would help the U.S. economy "avoid the economic harm" the sequester would create.

"Unfortunately, we heard I think overnight in some reporting that the speaker has come up with a list of demands that -- of cuts that would have to be in place for him to agree to buy down the sequester," Carney said. "And guess what? They're terrible."

Carney said the GOP proposals appeared to "fly in the face" of what he called a public relations effort to change voters' perception of Republicans.

It's a series of measures that basically say "that seniors, middle-class families, disabled kids and others will solely bear the burden of buying down the sequester while the wealthiest get held harmless."

"I don't know where Republicans have been of late, but that is not a winning approach," he said.

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