President Barack Obama seemed to have one of his lowest moments on Friday, in a special White House press conference in which the president discussed the [lack of] progress made to reach a solution with congressional leaders to avert the sequester.
Obama gave comments in a rambling hour-long Q&A with White House media. He said he wanted to avoid giving the American public sequester "gobbly gook" ... but gave just that in all of his answers. He sounded monotone, uninspired, and would avoid answering questions about the sequester head-on. He droned on about how "the sequester will hurt families," giving blah blah blah answers about the fluffy and jargony sequestration axe.
Sequestration officially starts Friday, most likely at 11:59 p.m., when the Office of Management and Budget issues a notice ordering agencies to make cuts of about 9% for most non-defense programs and about 13% for defense programs. The OMB will simultaneously transmit a report to Congress with those same details.
The sequester will likely cost around 750,000 jobs, according to the president, but that number could stretch well above 1 million.
The cuts were initially set to occur on January 1. As part of the fiscal cliff deal, Congress kicked the can a few months down the road, setting the next deadline to March 1.
Because this whole damn thing is SELF MADE, at first, almost everyone expected the sequester to be addressed in some sort of compromise package that distributed the cuts in a more targeted way and supplemented other reductions with revenue increases. That did not happen, as both the president and Congress gridlocked on a solution.
So here we are.
In the press conference, Obama said he can't do more to reach a sequester solution ... not even using "a jedi mind-meld" to help Congress come to an agreement.
Here are wild moments from his Friday press conference:
Reporter: [Couldn't you have done more to stop the sequester?]
Obama: “Give me an example of what I might do ... I’ve offered a plan … offered negotiations around a balanced approach ….
“What more do you think I can do? … [gesturing to the room full of media] If people have a solution, I’m happy to consider it … this is a room full of smart people.”
Reporter: "Couldn’t you just have them [at the White House] and lock the door until you reach a solution?"
“I am not a dictator, I am the president of the United States ... Most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal ... Some people think I should just do a Jedi mind meld to convince them … all these people were elected and have duties … ultimately, it’s a choice they make … So, ultimately, if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say that we need to go to catch a plane, I can't have Secret Service block the door way, right? ... What I can do is make the best possible argument.”
The sequester may cut over a million jobs in its first year and take an axe to everything from weapons systems to education programs and Medicare payments to hospitals.
Only 26 days after the sequester takes effect, the government runs out of money. This less-than-a-month period could serve as a "trial sequester" of sorts for GOP Congress members to take some action to fix the negative impacts of the sequester. By April 15, when most Americans think about their tax deadline, Congress has to pass a budget resolution, or they don’t get their paychecks. On or about May 19, we’ll hit the debt ceiling again, and it will need to be raised.
The press conference came after congressional leaders were invited to the White House on Friday morning. Obama used the meeting to discuss ways to limit or even avoid the sequester ... and of course came to no agreement with congressional leaders.
In yet another sign of theineptitude of our current government, the White House meeting was too little, too late to fix the self-made sequester that will likely cut American jobs and could negatively imapct economic growth. On Friday, both sides blamed the other for not reaching a deal.
This was the first extended meeting Obama spent with congressional leaders this week. Obama was on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a Rosa Parks statue unveiling, and he did meet with congressional leaders briefly ... a minute-long meeting. According to an Obama administration official, the president discussed the forced spending cuts and said that during their pending White House meeting on Friday they need to be "ready to talk solutions." Clearly Obama himself was not ready to talk.
Is this for real, President Obama?