President Obama Urges Congress to do 'Right Thing' on Cuts
President Obama says lawmakers have "the opportunity to do the right thing" and avert the sequester before a March 1 deadline.
Despite little sign of a deal emerging with Republicans, Obama says he does not believe it is inevitable that the $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts will take effect. He says finding a way to avert the cuts should be a "no-brainer" for congressional lawmakers.
Obama spoke in the Oval Office following a meeting with the Japanese prime minister.
The president says unlike earlier Washington fiscal fights, he does not believe the economic impact of the sequester will threaten the world financial market. But he says if the U.S. economy slows as a result of the cuts, the global economy will slow as well.
The Obama administration is warning that automatic spending cuts will result in travel delays at major airports and require traffic-disrupting shutdowns of air traffic control towers at smaller facilities.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the across the board reductions will require trimming $600 million this year form the Federal Aviation Administration. LaHood says that will require furloughing air traffic controllers, which in turn will reduce the ability to guide planes in and out of airports.
He says travelers could experience 90 minute delays or more in major cities.
He also outlined some of the cuts in a letter posted on the FAA website Friday morning. It includes a list of traffic control towers that could be closed until a budget deal is reached -- Reno is not on that one. But, our tower is on the list for possibly closing overnight.
"We've seen the FAA list of nighttime shutdowns and I've talked to the Reno tower chief and he says we shouldn't be effected here in Reno," says Brian Kulpin.
Airport officials did say the staff is primed to jump in and help with customer service..if needed.
But warn getting caught up in the delays, may be unavoidable.
"We connect to a lot of hub airports across the country and if furloughs and cuts happen, we are concerned about delays across the entire national transportation system."
Kulpin adds, "It's difficult timing for us because March is our busiest month of the year for us. With spring break and an early Easter and we're hoping for more snow and we don't want to lose business over a budget fight in Washington."
Obama has called on Congress to replace the cuts with tax increases and targeted reductions. Congressional Republicans oppose raising more tax revenue.
Meanwhile, visitors to America's national parks will encounter fewer rangers, find locked restrooms and visitors centers, and see trashcans emptied less often if 5% across-the-board cuts are enacted by sequestration.
A National Park Service internal memo obtained by The Associated Press compiles a list of cuts in services in parks from Cape Cod to Yosemite. It's the result of an order by Park Service Director John Jarvis in January that asked superintendents to show how they will absorb the funding cuts.
Most of the park system's $2.9 billion budget is for fixed costs such as salaries and utilities, so the $112 million in cuts would slash programs. Those on the block include invasive species eradication in Yosemite, student education at Gettysburg, and comfort stations on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.
In a statement yesterday House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said:
"President Obama has said that unless he gets a second tax hike in eight weeks... He will be forced to let criminals loose on the streets... The meat at your grocery store won't be inspected and emergency responders will be unable to do their jobs. These are false choices."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
Sunday, May 19 2013 7:02 PM EDT2013-05-19 23:02:30 GMT
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