Automatic federal budgets cuts are set to take place on Friday, and a deal to prevent them is looking increasingly unlikely. Both President Barack Obama and Republicans say they want to avoid sequestration, but neither has been willing to make sacrifices on larger-picture entitlement reform or tax increases that would make a solution possible. Both groups are also eager to point the finger at the other as the reason a deal hasn't been reached.
Over the weekend, the White House released detailed reports of how each state will be impacted if the budget cuts were to take effect. Education, public health, law enforcement, defense, food safety, aviation safety and security, and national parks programs all stand to take a hit if the budget cuts go into effect. The cuts total $85.4 billion, including $42.7 billion being cut from the defense budget and $28.7 billion in domestic discretionary spending. Another $9.9 billion will be cut from Medicare, and $4 billion in other mandatory cuts.
President Obama appeared at a Virginia shipyard on Tuesday, to highlight the danger communities across the country will face if sequester happens. Virginia stands to see gross pay reduced $648.4 million if approximately 90,000 Department of Defense employees are furloughed. The president said he's willing to compromise on entitlement cuts, but using the sequester to responsibly address the national debt and deficit isn't the right way to do things: "There's a sensible way of doing things, and there's a dumb way of doing things," Obama said.
Republicans have criticized Obama's fight against the sequester, saying he is dramatizing the impact the budget cuts will have. They've also accused him of "campaigning" by appearing at events around the country rather than trying to solve the problem. House Speaker John Boehner said the president's appearance in Virginia shows his lack of commitment to solving the problem:
It's time to cut spending here in Washington. Instead of using our military men and women as campaign props, if the president was serious, he'd sit down with Harry Reid and begin to address our problems … I've made this clear for months now, and yet we've seen nothing.
In Virginia, Obama said that he just wants to solve the problem so the cuts don't take effect:
I'm not interested in spin. I'm not interested in playing a blame game … At this point, all I'm interested in is solving problems.
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