President Barack Obama and congressional leaders could not come to an agreement on March 1 in a last-ditch effort to avert $42 billion in effective spending cuts starting March 2.
“If Congress comes to its senses, a week from now, a month of now, then there is a lot of running room for us to grow our economy much more quickly,” the president said after the failed talks at a press conference held at the White House.
Obama met Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on March 1 in Washington, D.C. High-ranking Democrats Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were also present, but the parties could not agree on how to avert automated spending cuts—the so called sequester.
Cuts to budgets of federal programs affect everything from defense to education, while leaving most entitlement and social security programs intact.
Budgets will be affected and reduced by $85 billion from March 2, but actual spending cuts ($42 billion according to the Congressional Budget Office) will be phased in over the next weeks and months.
Both parties introduced proposals to the Senate on Feb. 28, which ultimately did not gather a majority. The proposals did not go through for the same reason that the talks failed today. Democrats want higher taxes to reduce deficits, while Republicans want only to cut spending.
The sequester is going to affect many government workers and ordinary citizens who depend on their services. Nonetheless, the president believes that the outcome will be relatively benign.
“We will get through this, this is not going to be an apocalypse, it’s just dumb, it’s going to hurt … The economy is not going to grow as fast as it would have,” he said. “That’s real and it’s not necessary.”
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