With sequestration less than one week away, President Obama framed the issue as a choice between protecting tax loopholes and breaks for the wealthy and big business or preserving American jobs threatened by government cuts. President Obama challenged Republicans on this choice in his weekly address:
"Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising - instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans - they'd rather let these cuts fall squarely on the middle class.
And here's what that choice means: Once these cuts take effect, thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off, and tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, causing delays across the country. Even President Bush's director of the National Institutes of Health says these cuts will set back medical science for a generation.
Already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf - affecting our ability to respond to threats in an unstable part of the world. And just this week, the Pentagon announced that if these cuts go through, almost 800,000 defense employees - the equivalent of every person in Miami and Cleveland combined - will be forced to take unpaid leave.
That's what this choice means. Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids' schools and mental health care just to protect tax loopholes for corporate jet owners? Are they really willing to slash military health care and the border patrol just because they refuse to eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies? Are they seriously prepared to inflict more pain on the middle class because they refuse to ask anything more of those at the very top?
These are the questions Republicans in Congress need to ask themselves. And I'm hopeful they'll change their minds. Because the American people have worked too hard for too long to see everything they've built undone by partisan recklessness in Washington."
President Obama reiterated his willingness to make tough choices, but insisted on a balanced approach. The president directed those interested to review his plan at the White House website (www.whitehouse.gov/sequester).
President Obama's Weekly Address: