President Obama called on Congress Tuesday to avoid a series of automatic budget cuts next month by passing a short-term budget plan this month.
"Deep indiscriminate cuts to things like education and training, energy and national security will cost us jobs, and it will slow down our recovery," Obama said during brief remarks at the White House.
Facing a March 1 deadline, Obama called for "a small package" of spending cuts and tax revenue increases as a short-term stopgap to delay the series of automatic cuts known as "the sequester."
Obama said the economy is "headed in the right direction," and "it will stay that way, as long as there aren't any more self-inflicted wounds coming out of Washington." He added, "Let's keep on chipping away at this problem" of budget deficits and debt.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said it's up to Obama and congressional Democrats to "get serious" about debt reduction.
"House Republicans have twice passed legislation that would replace the sequester in a smarter way, only to see it ignored by the Democrat-controlled Senate," said the Senate's top Republican. "If Democrats have ideas for smarter cuts, they should bring them up for debate."
The president said he is still looking for a major debt-reduction deal for the long term of more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years, saying that earlier ideas are "still on the table." Obama said he still supports proposed changes to the tax code and to the ever-rising entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, but he did not provide many specifics.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama would work with Congress on the composition of a short-term budget plan that would require tens of billions of dollars in debt reduction to avoid the scheduled budget cuts. Carney noted that Obama and congressional Republicans have struck previous deals that add up to some $2.5 trillion in debt reduction over the next decade.
The president also renewed his call for a "balanced" approach to reducing the country's $16.4 trillion debt, a plan that includes more tax revenue as well as budget cuts.
Obama did not call for higher income tax rates on the wealthy that were part of the "fiscal cliff" deal reached with Congress last month. Instead, he again proposed closing tax loopholes and ending certain deductions that benefit the rich and "aren't available to most Americans."
Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the goal should be to simplify the tax system.
"The president's proposal is nothing more than another tax hike to pay for more Washington spending," said Camp, R-Mich.
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