SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

September 24, 2013

All condemn pending budget cuts, spread blame

(Continued)

“We just need Republicans in Washington to come around,” Obama added. “Because we need their help to finish the job of reducing our deficit in a smart way that doesn’t hurt our economy or our people.”

With Friday’s deadline nearing, few in the nation’s capital were optimistic that a realistic alternative could be found, and all sought to cast the political process itself as the culprit. If Congress does not step in, a top-to-bottom series of cuts will be spread across domestic and defense agencies in a way that would fundamentally change how government serves its people.

Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told reporters that the GOP is “so focused on not giving the president another win” that they will cost thousands of jobs. To back up their point, the White House released state-by-state tallies for how many dollars and jobs the budget cuts would mean to each state.

“The Republicans are making a policy choice that these cuts are better than eliminating loopholes,” Pfeiffer said.

And, yes, those cuts will hurt. The cuts would slash from domestic and defense spending alike, leading to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of government workers and contractors.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said travelers could see delayed flights. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said 70,000 fewer children from low-income families would have access to Head Start programs. And furloughed meat inspectors could leave plants idled.

In Virginia, for instance, 90,000 Defense Department civilian employees could be furloughed, including nurses at Army hospitals, said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. He also said ship-repair contractors could lay off 300 of their 450 employees.

“There is no reason that this has to happen. We just need to find a balanced approach,” Kaine said.

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