U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday Congress should replace "dumb" federal
spending cuts before the so-called sequester "causes further damage."
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said the sequester -- a series of automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts -- was a bad idea when Congress adopted it and "as the country saw this week, it's a bad idea now."
Obama said the cuts are affecting families whose children are being "kicked out of Head Start programs," and "seniors who depend on programs like Meals on Wheels to live independently."
"There are military communities -- families that have already sacrificed enough -- coping under new strains," he said. "All because of these cuts."
He noted furloughs of air traffic controllers resulted this week in flight delays with travelers "stuck for hours in airports and on planes, and rightly frustrated by it."
"And, maybe because they fly home each weekend, the Members of Congress who insisted these cuts take hold finally realized that they actually apply to them too," Obama said.
"Republicans claimed victory when the sequester first took effect, and now they've decided it was a bad idea all along," he said. "Well, first, they should look at their own budget. If the cuts they propose were applied across the board, the FAA would suffer cuts three times deeper."
Congress enacted legislation this week allowing the U.S. Department of Transportation to shift funds within its budget to avoid the need for air traffic controller furloughs, but the president called that "a temporary fix. A Band-Aid," and said cuts will keep affecting "other parts of the government that provide vital services for the American people."
"And we can't just keep putting Band-Aids on every cut," he said. "It's not a responsible way to govern. There is only one way to truly fix the sequester: by replacing it before it causes further damage.
"A couple weeks ago, I put forward a budget that replaces the next several years of these dumb cuts with smarter cuts; reforms our tax code to close wasteful special interest loopholes; and invests in things like education, research, and manufacturing that will create new jobs right now," Obama said.
The president said he hopes Congress "will find the same sense of urgency and bipartisan cooperation to help the families still in the crosshairs of these cuts."
"They may not feel the pain felt by kids kicked off Head Start, or the 750,000 Americans projected to lose their jobs because of these cuts, or the long-term unemployed who will be further hurt by them," he said. "But that pain is real."
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