President Obama today vowed to continue working with Republicans to develop a long-term deficit reduction plan, while making it clear that the sequester — the automatic government spending cuts that kicked in over the weekend – would not prevent him from pursuing his broader second-term agenda.
“I will continue to seek out partners on the other side of the aisle so that we can create the kind of balanced approach of spending cuts, revenues, entitlement reform that everybody knows is the right way to do things,” Obama told reporters at the first cabinet meeting of his second term.
“It is an area of deep concern, and I think everybody knows where I stand on this issue. We are going to manage it as best we can, try to minimize the impacts on American families, but it’s not the right way for us to go about deficit reduction,” he said.
The president said his administration will “do whatever it is that we need to get done to help America’s families” suffering as a result of the spending cuts.
“We’re going to do our best to make sure that our agencies have the support they need to try to make some very difficult decisions, understanding that there are going to be families and communities that are hurt, and that this will slow our growth,” he said.
The president reiterated that his agenda is “broader than just the sequester,” and that he would continue to push his legislative priorities, including immigration reform, universal preschool and reducing gun violence.
“One of the things that I’ve instructed not just my White House but every agency is to make sure that, regardless of some of the challenges that they may face because of sequestration, we’re not going to stop working on behalf of the American people to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to continue to grow this economy and improve people’s prospects,” he said.
Today’s meeting was the first for several new members of the president’s cabinet. “We’ve got some familiar faces, we have some new faces, we have some familiar faces in new positions,” he said, noting Jack Lew, his former chief of staff and new Treasury secretary, and Chuck Hagel, his new defense secretary.