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February 19, 2013

Obama warns Congress not to let "meat cleaver" of cuts take place

Surrounded by police officers on a stage in the White House, President Obama on Tuesday prodded a vacationing Congress to take action to avoid a series of painful spending cuts.

Obama, who returned to the White House Monday from his own three-day golf vacation, called it "troubling" that in 10 days Congress "might allow a series of automatic severe budget cuts" to take place.

"It won't help the economy, won't create jobs, will visit hardship on a whole lot of people," Obama said.

He argued that the spending cuts were designed to be "so unattractive and unappealing" that lawmakers would reach a compromise.

"This was all designed to say, "We can't do these bad cuts. Let's do something smarter,' " Obama said. "Unfortunately, Congress didn't compromise. They haven't come together and done their jobs. So as a consequence we've got these automatic brutal spending cuts that are poised to happen next Friday"

He warned that if the "meat cleaver approach" takes place -- as Congress seems prepared to let happen, "it will jeopardize our military readiness. It will eviscerate job- creating investments in education and energy and medical research. It won't consider whether we're cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn't make those distinctions."

Emergency responders, like the ones who are here today, their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country.

Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.


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

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