President Obama: May Take Weeks, Months to Fix Budget Mess
President Barack Obama says it may take a couple of weeks or a couple of months to reach a deal to end Washington's battle over spending cuts.
The president spoke after meeting with congressional leaders at the White House on $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that go into effect Friday. "I just met with leaders of both parties to discuss a way forward in light of the severe budget cuts that start to take effect today. I told them these cuts will hurt our economy, they'll cost us jobs, and to set it right both sides need to be willing to compromise."
Obama says the nation shouldn't be making "dumb and arbitrary" spending cuts. He says Republicans have allowed the cuts to happen.
"And the one key to this whole thing is trying to make sure we keep in mind who we're here for. We are not here for ourselves, we are not here for our parties, we are not here to advance our electoral prospects. We're here for American families who have been getting battered pretty good over the last four years are just starting to see the economy improve, businesses are just starting to see some confidence coming back and this is not a win for anybody."
Obama stays he still believes the cuts can be replaced, but he wants a deal that includes more taxes.
He says as long as the cuts stay in effect, Americans will know that the economy could have been better had they been averted. "The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy; a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day. So economists are estimating that as a consequence of this sequester, we could see growth cut by over 1/2 of 1 percent. It will cost about 750,000 jobs at a time when we should be growing jobs more quickly."
Wondering whether the government's automatic budget cuts will slow down President Barack Obama's health care law?
Not happening, the administration says.
Health and Human Services spokeswoman Erin Shields Britt says consumers in every state will have access to coverage when open enrollment begins Oct 1. That's right on schedule.
Sequestration could hamper airline flights, food inspections, IRS assistance and deployments of Navy ships.
But Obama's health care law -- a program Republicans have spent the last three years trying to kill -- will roll out on time.
Only a small fraction of the $1.6 trillion the law spends to cover the uninsured over the next decade is subject to the cuts.
That's --quote-- galling, says Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas.
Meanwhile, in his first public comments since his Election Day defeat, Mitt Romney is criticizing President Barack Obama for "berating Republicans" instead of leading.
The former Republican presidential nominee tells Fox News that Washington's latest budget battle wasn't "a success" for the president.
Obama rallied against a series of deep federal spending cuts but couldn't convince Congress to adopt an alternative. The cuts begin to take effect Friday.
In an interview scheduled to air Friday evening, Romney says Obama has been, quote, "berating Republicans and blaming and pointing." The former Massachusetts governor calls on the president to instead, quote, "lead the nation and to bring Republicans and Democrats together."
Romney says it's a job only Obama can do.
Romney has been living in seclusion in California since November.