Tourists visiting Washington D.C. this spring to enjoy the profusion of pink, fragrant, cherry blossoms and tour the White House are in for an unpleasant surprise. NBC News reports that due to budget cuts required by the sequester, all White House tours are cancelled until further notice, starting Saturday, March 9th. The cuts will save the U.S. government $74,000 per week — or $3,488,000 per year. Just a drop in the $4 trillion deficit reduction bucket, but what the hey, every little bit helps. You’d think those fanatical budget-balancing Republicans would be cackling with glee while twisting their cold, gnarled, blue-veined hands together in excitement over this latest misery inflicted upon the American people. After all, they’re the ones who’ve forced this highly unpopular sequestration upon us in the first place: 45% of Americans want their elected representatives to vote against it, and only 11% feel positive about it.
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama plans to meet with several Republican senators for dinner on Wednesday as part of his effort to revive talks to tackle the nation’s long-term deficit, a congressional aide confirmed.
President Barack Obama answers questions from the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 22, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
President Barack Obama on Monday called on the nation’s governors to lobby their respective congressional delegations to prevent the looming sequestration cuts set to kick in Friday.
At the annual gathering of the National Governors Association, Obama urged the bipartisan group of state executives to review the state-by-state reports issued by the White House Sunday outlining how the more than $1 trillion in across-the-board cuts would affect their constituents. Obama also addressed state and federal partnerships in infrastructure and education.
Only Congress can avoid this self-inflicted wound to our economy and middle class families, and the only thing standing in the way of a solution today is Congressional Republicans’ refusal to even consider closing tax loopholes that benefit wealthy Americans and well-connected corporations. The President and Congressional Democrats have put forward solutions to avoid these cuts and allow time for both sides to work on a long-term, balanced solution to our deficit challenges.
The President is serious about cutting spending, reforming entitlements and the tax code to reduce the deficit in a balanced way. The question is, will Congressional Republicans come to the table to get something done?
“If Congress allows this meat cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness … [and] eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research,” he said. “It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions.”
Obama said the sequester would result in, among other things, reduced border patrol staffing, degraded first response capability in emergency situations, a furlough of FBI agents, layoffs of teachers and educators, air traffic and airport security cutbacks and loss of access to healthcare for hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Partisan finger-pointing has trumped negotiations as Congress and the White House barrel toward the March 1 deadline for replacing or modifying $85 billion in spending cuts to military and domestic programs. Leaders in both parties have likened the cuts to a “meat cleaver” approach to deficit reduction that could cost jobs and undermine military readiness, but have yet to engage in serious talks on reversing them.
The House made its first formal foray into immigration reform yesterday at a lengthy Judiciary Committee hearing in which Republicans struck a familiar chord. Despite record-setting deportation levels in recent years, Republican members of the committee were in broad agreement that they want even more enforcement before they could sign onto the comprehensive reform ideas laid out by Senate negotiators and President Obama.
The nation has grieved the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year old honor student who was killed very close to the home of President Barack Obama. The young woman was shot shortly after performing for the president’s inauguration, and has become a symbol of the cyclone of violence that has engulfed the city of Chicago.
The community made calls for President Obama to attend the girl’s funeral as a show of support for the victims of inner city violence. The president was highly responsive to killings in Colorado and Connecticut, but there are those who felt that he was ignoring violence that involved black children. Hadiya’s shooting not only got the attention of the black community, but the White House also took notice, since the killing occurred in a neighborhood deemed to be “safe.”
Warning of grave economic consequences if a package of automatic spending cuts takes effect in coming weeks as part of the sequester, President Barack Obama Tuesday urged Congress to pass a short-term package of spending cuts and to close tax loopholes.
“If they can’t get a bigger package done by the time the sequester is scheduled to go into effect, then I believe they should at least pass a smaller package,” Obama said at the White House. “There is no reason that the jobs of thousands of Americans who work in national security or education or clean energy—not to mention the growth of the entire economy—should be put in jeopardy.”