(WASHINGTON) — Drawing attention in his weekly address to programs and services undergoing significant cuts due to sequestration, President Obama calls on Congress to approve a balanced, lasting solution for deficit reduction.
Though economic growth and creating jobs and opportunities for the middle class ought to be “our top priority,” the president says, Congress allowed a series of automatic budget cuts call the sequester to “do the opposite.”
“It was a bad idea then. And as the country saw this week, it’s a bad idea now,” he says.
President Obama points out that because of the sequester cuts, children were “kicked out of Head Start programs scrambling for a solution,” seniors who depend on programs like Meals on Wheels were left “looking for help,” and military military communities – “families that have already sacrificed enough” – were left to cope under the new strains.
This week, the president notes, frustrated travelers across the country were delayed for hours at airports and on planes due to FAA air traffic control furloughs.
“And, maybe because they fly home each weekend, the Members of Congress who insisted these cuts take hold finally realized that they actually apply to them too,” says the president.
Congress Friday approved legislation that will ease the FAA furloughs, but the president criticized this move as a “Band-Aid,” a temporary fix.
“[T]hese cuts are scheduled to keep falling across other parts of the government that provide vital services for the American people. And we can’t just keep putting Band-Aids on every cut. It’s not a responsible way to govern,” he says in the address. “There is only one way to truly fix the sequester: by replacing it before it causes further damage.”
With an extra push for the budget plan he proposed just weeks ago, President Obama says his approach would replace “the next several years of these dumb cuts with smarter cuts,” and help to invest in education, research and manufacturing.
“So I hope Members of Congress will find the same sense of urgency and bipartisan cooperation to help the families still in the crosshairs of these cuts. They may not feel the pain felt by kids kicked off Head Start, or the 750,000 Americans projected to lose their jobs because of these cuts, or the long-term unemployed who will be further hurt by them. But that pain is real,” he says.
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