WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — President Barack Obama has issued another appeal to Congress to work with him to avert the first stage of what will ultimately be more than $1 trillion in automatic cuts to domestic and defense spending scheduled to take effect March 1.

“Our top priority must be to do everything we can to grow the economy and create good, middle-class jobs,” Obama said from The White House, standing alongside a group of emergency responders. “That’s why it’s so troubling that just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of automatic, severe budget cuts to take place that will do the exact opposite.”

The $85 billion in cuts that could potentially begin next week are the first part of $1.2 trillion in what President Obama called “brutal” reductions that the president and lawmakers agreed on two years ago to force budget savings amid partisan gridlock in Washington.

President Obama appeared in an auditorium with a group of 16 first responders, including police, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians who he said could lose their jobs if automatic cuts occur.

Obama said that Republicans don’t have a “balanced” approach to spending cuts.

The President dismissed the alternative solutions Republicans have put forward because they don’t include the “balanced” approach of spending cuts alongside that of new tax revenue.

He emphasized that he won’t sign any legislation that doesn’t include both pieces.

Republicans “ask nothing of the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations, so the burden is all on first responders or seniors or middle-class families,” Obama said. “They double down, in fact, on the harsh, harmful cuts that I’ve outlined

President Obama stressed that the best solution is for Congress to pass the proposal from he and Senate Democrats to offset the sequester with targeted spending cuts and by closing tax loopholes through comprehensive tax reform.

“Republicans in Congress face a simple choice. Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education and health care and national security and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations?”


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