WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama on Saturday called on the US Congress to end the “reckless” and “dumb” budget cuts known as the sequester, and to adopt a plan of “smarter” cuts to fuel economic growth.
Obama’s weekly address comes after Congress on Friday overwhelming approved a bill putting furloughed air traffic controllers back on the job, thus undoing one of the most high-profile effects of the so-called sequestration, the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that took effect March 1 and hit federal spending across the board.
“This week, the sequester hurt travelers, who were stuck for hours in airports and on planes, and rightly frustrated by it. And, maybe because they fly home each weekend, the members of Congress who insisted these cuts take hold finally realized that they actually apply to them too,” Obama said.
“Republicans claimed victory when the sequester first took effect, and now they’ve decided it was a bad idea all along. Well, first, they should look at their own budget. If the cuts they propose were applied across the board, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) would suffer cuts three times deeper.”
According to Obama, Congress on Friday “passed a temporary fix. A Band-Aid. But these cuts are scheduled to keep falling across other parts of the government that provide vital services for the American people. And we can’t just keep putting Band-Aids on every cut. It’s not a responsible way to govern.”
The president said there were plenty of people, including low-income children being cut from government education programs and seniors dependant on food programs, who are suffering from the “reckless” automatic budget cuts.
“I hope members of Congress will find the same sense of urgency and bipartisan cooperation to help the families still in the crosshairs of these cuts,” Obama said.
He urged the legislature to adopt his proposed budget, which “replaces the next several years of these dumb cuts with smarter cuts; reforms our tax code to close wasteful special interest loopholes; and invests in things like education, research, and manufacturing that will create new jobs right now.”
Obama’s Republican foes accused his administration of “needlessly” disrupting thousands of passengers for political gain in the dragged-out battle over mandatory budget cuts.