(WASHINGTON) — Dumb, inexcusable and unnecessary. Just a few of the adjectives President Obama used to describe the $85 billion in spending cuts that will kick-in Friday after a last ditch effort to broker a compromise with congressional leaders failed.
In a hastily announced appearance in the White House briefing room, a deflated Obama insisted he’s done everything in his power to avert the across-the-board sequester cuts and put the majority of the blame on Republicans.
“I can make the best possible argument. And I can offer concessions and I can offer compromise. I can negotiate. I can make sure that my party is willing to compromise and is not being ideological or thinking about these just in terms of political terms. And I think I’ve done that, and I will continue to do that,” he said. “But what I can’t do is force Congress to do the right thing.”
“I am not a dictator, I’m the president,” he added.
“I’ve put forward a plan that calls for serious spending cuts, serious entitlement reforms, goes right at the problem that is at the heart of our long-term deficit problem. I’ve offered negotiations around that kind of balanced approach,” explained Obama. “And so far we’ve gotten rebuffed because what Speaker Boehner and the Republicans have said is, we cannot do any revenue; we can’t do a dime’s worth of revenue.”
The president also continued to soften his warning. While insisting the “pain” will be real, he admitted “not everybody is going to feel it. Not everybody’s going to feel it all at once.”
“This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think as some people have said. It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt individual people, and it’s going to hurt the economy overall,” he concluded.
Officials have said the spending reductions immediately take effect Saturday but that the pain from reduced government services and furloughs of tens of thousands of federal employees would be felt gradually in the weeks ahead.
During the announcement Obama also lamented his lack of Jedi powers, saying that he couldn’t “do a Jedi mind meld” with Republicans to “convince them to do what’s right.” Twitter was quick to note the president’s minor gaffe — mixing up Star Wars’ “Jedi mind trick” with Star Trek’s “Vulcan mind meld.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jennifer Rizzo, CNN
Stephen Collinson and MJ Lee, CNN
Laura Koran, CNN
Jeremy Diamond, CNN