With five days to go before $85 billion in automatic spending cuts take effect, the Obama administration is intensifying its grass-roots campaign to pressure congressional Republicans to find a compromise.
The administration has released a state-by-state report on what it calls dire consequences from the cuts, called a sequester.
Among the examples cited by administration officials are cutbacks in spending at military bases in California and Texas; a slowdown of efforts to clean up the damage from Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey; teacher layoffs in Ohio; and less maintenance of Navy ships in Virginia. Obama is scheduled to visit shipyards in Newport News, Va., Tuesday to personally argue his case for avoiding a sequester.
The report also argues that sequestration would result in the loss of $8.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education in Colorado, putting the jobs of 120 teachers and teachers' aides at risk. And the administration says about 31,000 Department of Defense employees would be furloughed in Florida.
In addition, the administration warns that there would be cuts in important programs nationally, including airport security personnel, Head Start, and food inspections.
"Unless Congress acts by March 1, a series of automatic cuts—called the sequester—will take effect that threaten hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform," said an administration spokesman.
Obama has proposed avoiding sequestration through what he calls a balanced approach that combines targeted spending cuts and higher taxes on the affluent and on big business. GOP legislators prefer only spending cuts, an approach that Obama says would damage too many important programs.
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement that, "What we still don't know is whether the president has a plan for smarter, more common-sense cuts to the waste and endless growth in Washington. Surely, he can put forward a plan to cut 2 to 3 percent from a $3.5 trillion budget."
And Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, said, "Considering the House has twice passed legislation to avoid the sequester, you would think [the] White House would be focused on getting the Senate to pass a plan that would do the same instead of creating more PR stunts."
The Senate is controlled by Democrats, and the House by Republicans.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Facebook and Twitter.