President Obama on Monday asked the nation’s governors to help pressure Congress to strike a deal to avert the looming sequester cuts set to hit at the end of the month.
“While you are in town I hope you speak with your congressional delegation and remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake,” Obama said.
The president emphasized to state officials that “these cuts don’t have to happen,” and urged attendees at the annual National Governor’s Association meeting to tell their representatives in Washington to get past their “obsession of focusing on the next election instead of the next generation.”
“Congress can turn them off anytime with just a little compromise,” Obama said.
Following an hour-long private question and answer session with the president, governors from both parties emerged to express concern over the impact the cuts could have on their states.
But while many urged legislators to reach a compromise agreement to avert the sequester, some Republican governors said they believed the federal government should be able to absorb a 3 percent reduction in their budget.
“We as governors understand that there are going to have to be some cuts to get our federal deficits under control,” said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.
Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he had asked President Obama to delay new spending expected as part of the president’s healthcare reform rather than allow sequester to hit, but that Obama was not “interested” in such a solution.
“My sense was he felt that the election has consequences,” Jindal said, adding that his “perspective is you can cut less than 3 percent of the federal budget without devastating consequences.”
The White House has urged Congress to offset the $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board spending cuts with a package that equally combines future cuts and new revenues raised by closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest individuals and corporations.
But Republicans have insisted they will not agree to any deal that includes a tax increase, noting rates increased last month as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal.