With one week to go until sweeping budget cuts kick in, President Obama today said avoiding the so-called sequester is a "no-brainer" and that lawmakers still have the "opportunity to make the right decisions."
Obama told reporters he does not think the $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts are "inevitable," as mandated if Congress fails to agree on a deficit-reduction bill.
"We always have the opportunity to make the right decisions, and I've been very clear that these kinds of arbitrary, automatic cuts would have an adverse impact on families, on teachers, on parents who are reliant on Head Start programs, on our military readiness, on mental health services, on medical research," he said. "This is not a smart way for us to reduce the deficit."
The president pledged to continue conservations with members of Congress about how to avoid the likely painful cuts, which he said would "slow down the recovery."
"My hope is that we can see a different course taken by Congress," he said. "This should be a no-brainer."
Asked about the realistic chances a deal can be reached in the next week, Obama said simply, "hope springs eternal."
The president spoke to reporters in the Oval Office after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.