Following a last-minute meeting with congressional leaders on Friday, President Barack Obama addressed the automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect today.
Shockingly, he put the blame squarely on Republicans.
“[Republicans] refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit. As recently as yesterday, they decided to protect special interest tax breaks for the well-off and the well-connected,” the president said, “[to them] it’s more important than protecting our military or middle-class families from the pain of these cuts.”
Republicans “need to catch up … with their own country on this,” he said, adding that he knows some Republicans who privately say that “they’d rather close tax loopholes” than allow sequestration and that these members of the GOP need to “be given a voice.”
In short, the president said he has very little (if anything) to do with the spending cuts he signed into law. In fact, while taking questions during his Friday presser, the president was asked specifically if he takes any responsibility for the cuts.
“Give me an example of what I might do?” the president said, putting the reporter on the spot. “What more do you think I should do?”
One reporter half-jokingly suggested that he lock leaders of Congress in a room until they come up with a solution.
“I am not a dictator,” Obama replied, adding that he can’t simply lock GOP leaders in a room. “I am the president.”
He never once addressed the fact that he signed these supposedly painful and dangerous cuts into law — or the fact that they were his administration’s idea in the first place.
“None of this is necessary. It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made,” he said. “The economy will not grow as quickly as it would have. Unemployment will not go down as quickly as it would have.”
The failed meeting between the president and congressional leaders got under way shortly after 10 a.m. EST. After it broke up, Speaker Boehner told reporters that he would not agree to a plan that calls for an increase in taxes.
“The discussion about revenue, in my view is over. It’s about taking on the spending problem,” he said in a statement.
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Featured image courtesy Getty Images.