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Averting the Sequester

Unless Congress acts, harmful automatic cuts that threaten hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs will hit our economy over the next few weeks. These cuts will gut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and health care for our troops and military families.

President Obama’s number one priority is strengthening the middle class by creating jobs and growing the economy. That’s his North Star. President Obama strongly believes we need to replace the sequester with balanced deficit reduction because these cuts will hurt the middle class.

The full damage of these cuts will spread to nearly every corner of our economy over the next few months but some middle class families will receive layoff or furlough notices within days. The inability of Republicans in Congress to consider a balanced, compromise approach is taking a damaging toll on the economy—it has slowed economic growth and created uncertainty for businesses that may want to expand and hire.

Republicans in Congress are making an explicit policy choice that these cuts are better for the economy than eliminating tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires by not acting to replace the sequester. That’s the route the GOP is threatening to take.

Republicans are choosing:

  • To layoff teachers and cut special education instead of eliminating tax breaks for corporate jet owners.
  • To cut health care for military families instead of ending subsidies to oil companies when they’ve never been more profitable.
  • To cut 4 million meals delivered to seniors rather than ask millionaire hedge fund managers to pay at least the same share of their income in taxes as their secretaries.

The President has offered a compromise that meets Republicans more than halfway, offering twice as many spending cuts as it does tax revenue from the wealthy. The problem is simple: Republicans refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more in taxes by closing loopholes. Even Republican leaders acknowledge up to $800 billion can be saved this way. Their unreasonable, cuts-only approach has blocked compromise and the middle class is set to pay the price for their choice.

Republicans are forcing our children, seniors, troops, military families and the entire middle class to bear the burden of deficit reduction to avoid asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more. That’s unacceptable to President Obama because it would violate his core economic values.

These cuts will hit the middle class only if Republicans believe this policy is the best choice to reduce the deficit. It’s not. There are reasonable, balanced alternatives and that’s what President Obama is offering: a compromise plan. The President has always said we need to cut spending and reduce the deficit in a balanced way, but sticking the middle class with the bill is unacceptable. President Obama is willing to compromise, but he cannot accept a deal that undercuts the economic security of middle class families.

The sequester would have devastating impacts on our economy and national security and no amount of flexibility changes that. Congress’ only option is to act to replace it with balanced deficit reduction. With four days until these across the board cuts hit, Congressional Republicans need to come to the table and compromise. Otherwise, they’ll have to explain to the American people why they’d choose to put hundreds of thousands of jobs on the line because they refuse to close a single tax loophole for the wealthiest few.