'I am not a dictator, I am the President', says Obama
Washington: Defending his efforts to stop the sequester or the automatic spending cuts, US President Barack Obama on Friday blamed Republican after his last minute meeting with the Congressional leadership, saying he is not a dictator who can force things on others.
"I am not a dictator, I'm the President," he told White House reporters after nearly half an hour meeting with the Congressional leadership including House Speaker John Boehner.
"They're elected. We have a constitutional system of government. The Speaker of the House and the Leader of the Senate and all those folks have responsibilities.
What I can do is I can make the best possible case for why we need to do the right thing. I can speak to the American people about the consequences of the decisions this Congress is making or the lack of decision-making by Congress," he said.
"But ultimately, it's a choice they make, this idea that somehow there's a secret formula or secret sauce to get Speaker Boehner or Mitch McConnell to say, you know what, Mr. President, you're right; we should close some tax loopholes for the well-off and well-connected, in exchange for some serious entitlement reform and spending cuts in programs we don't need if there was a secret way to do that, I would have tried it. I would have done it," he said after the meeting.
Obama said at a time when US businesses have finally begun to get some traction, hiring new workers, bringing jobs back, one shouldn't be making a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts to things that businesses depend on and workers depend on, like education and research and infrastructure and defense.
"It's unnecessary, and at a time when too many Americans are still looking for work, it's inexcusable," he said.
Not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away, he noted.
"The pain, though, will be real. Beginning this week, many middle-class families will have their lives disrupted in significant ways. Businesses that work with the military, may have to lay folks off. Communities near military bases will take a serious blow.
"Hundreds of thousands of Americans who serve their country - Border Patrol agents, FBI agents, civilians who work at the Pentagon - all will suffer significant pay cuts and furloughs," he added.
"All of this will cause a ripple effect throughout our economy. Layoffs and pay cuts means that people have less money in their pockets, and that means that they have less money to spend at local businesses. That means lower profits; that means fewer hires. The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy, a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day," he added.