President Obama used his State of the Union address Tuesday night for a novel purpose - to warn Americans who don’t follow the ins and outs of politics about the economically damaging federal spending cuts coming their way on March 1 - and sell them on his plan to avoid them.
“In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year,” he said in his remarks.
These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, energy, and medical research.They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as “the sequester,” are a really bad idea.
Now, some in this Congress have proposed preventing only the defense cuts by making even bigger cuts to things like education and job training; Medicare and Social Security benefits.
That idea is even worse.
The vast bulk of Obama’s speech, according to prepared remarks, is dedicated to promoting initiatives - new and old - he’d like Congress to act upon in the months and years ahead. But all of those ideas are premised on the idea that the sequester is first defused. And he’ll need public opinion on his side if that’s going to happen.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.