Dumb, inexcusable and unnecessary. Just a few of words President Obama used to describe the $85 billion in spending cuts that will kick-in today 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 blame squarely 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.
Pressed further on the responsibility he bears for the cuts, the president joked that he can’t “do a Jedi mind meld” with Republicans to “convince them to do what’s right” and went so far as to ask a reporter to “give me an example of what I might do?”
“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. 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,” he said. “What more do you think I should do?”
The president admitted that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has “challenges in his caucus.”
“I recognize that it’s very hard for Republican leaders to be perceived as making concessions to me,” he said. “Sometimes I reflect, you know, is there something else I could do to make these guys — I’m not talking about the leaders now, but maybe some of the House Republican caucus members — not paint horns on my head?”
After weeks of outlining the dire impacts of the cuts, the president 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.