President Obama said Friday he'll keep making his case about avoiding steep spending cuts in talks with Congress and the American people, saying "hope springs eternal," when asked about the chances of a realistic deal.
The remarks came as Obama met in the Oval Office with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Obama said he didn't believe the cuts due to take effect March 1 are "inevitable," adding, "You always have the opportunity to make the right decisions." He reiterated the White House belief that the "arbitrary, automatic cuts" will fall widely, hurting families, teachers, military readiness, mental health services and medical research.
Though Obama only called House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday, he told reporters he'd "continue" to have conversations with members of Congress, who return from recess next week.
"My hope is that we can see a different course taken by Congress," Obama said. "This should be a no-brainer."
He said the cuts will "slow down the recovery" and could mean direct job losses and a stagnant unemployment rate.
The two leaders said they discussed the U.S.-Japan alliance, with Abe noting that the two agreed that when it comes to North Korea, the "important thing" was not to provide "“rewards" for the recent nuclear missile tests. He said they also agreed to cooperate on UN sanctions, and he mentioned "financial sanctions" as an example of cooperation.
"We just cannot tolerate the actions of North Korea, such as launching missiles and conducting nuclear tests," he said. "So we agreed we would cooperate with one another and deal resolutely with North Korea."