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February 26, 2013

Obama talks spending cuts in military-rich Virginia

President Barack Obama journeyed to Virginia to prod Congress to halt looming across-the-board federal spending cuts, warning of the potential consequences on America’s armed forces and economy. But

“These cuts are wrong,” Obama said. “They’re not smart. They’re not fair. They’re a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen.”

Obama spoke to hundreds of enthusiastic Newport News Shipbuilding employees in a cavernous building where the front sections of nuclear submarines are built. The massive tip of a submarine situated on one side of the room was adorned with an American flag.

“The main reason I'm here is to call attention to the important work you're doing on behalf of the nation's defense, and to let the American people know that this work, along with hundreds of thousands of jobs, are currently in jeopardy because of politics in Washington,” he said.  

Obama again urged Congress to delay the cuts by passing a package of $930 million in spending cuts and $580 million in revenue by eliminating tax loopholes that benefit certain industries or the wealthy. He said he was not asking for an income tax increase, though he did not mentioned that he pushed – and succeeded – in passing a series of tax increases on every working Americans just two months ago.

“I just have to be honest with you, there are too many Republicans in Congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch when it comes to closing tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks,” he said. “And that's what's holding things up right now.”

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Obama was joined by both Democratic and Republican members of Congress who represent the region -- Reps. Bobby Scott, D, and Scott Rigell, R, who has urged his party to compromise.

“I’ve also shared with my colleagues that I believe that a position that says we will reject a proposal if it has even a dollar increase in revenue, I don’t think that’s a wise position and I don’t hold that value,” Rigell said. 

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was pleased Obama's gave a "voice to the thousands of workers who stand to be affected by sequester cuts and continued budget uncertainty."

"I’m also encouraged by the calls made there today – by both legislators – for a balanced approach to solving this self-inflicted crisis," he said.


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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