President Barack Obama blamed Republican lawmakers Friday for failing to stop automatic spending cuts kicking in today, calling the cuts “dumb, arbitrary.”
Republicans said the fault was his, for insisting that increased taxes be part of the resolution.
Speaking at the White House, Obama said the impact of the cuts won’t immediately be felt, but middle class families will begin to “have their lives disrupted in significant ways.”
“Lets be clear – none of this is necessary. It’s happening because of a choice Republicans in congress have made,” Obama told reporters in the Brady Press Briefing Room. “They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they’ve refused to budge on closing a single, wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit.”
The president said as long as the cuts stay in effect, Americans will know that the economy could have been better had they been averted.
“The longer these cuts remain in place, the more damage to our economy,” he said.
Obama, pressed on whether he bears some of the responsibility for the stalemate, expressed frustration. “Give me an example of what I might do,” he challenged reporters.
“I am not a dictator. I’m the president,” he said. He added that he can’t do a “Jedi mind-meld” or use any “special sauce” to get
Republicans to negotiate.
“I can’t force Congress to do the right thing,” Obama said.
He said he still believed the cuts could be replaced but he wanted a deal that includes more tax revenue by closing “wasteful” loopholes. He said it may take a couple of weeks or couple of months to find a fix for the impasse.
Obama spoke after a meeting with House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi at the White House Friday.
“The president got his tax hikes on Jan. 1st,” Boehner said bluntly after the meeting. “The discussion about revenue in my view is over. It’s about taking on the spending problem here in Washington.”
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