Obama Warns Looming Sequester Would Devastate Economy

Published 02/19 2013 12:01PM

Updated 02/19 2013 12:05PM

President Barack Obama used his bully pulpit Tuesday to warn of calamitous consequences for the U.S. economy should the automatic spending cuts known as the "sequester" go into effect next Friday.

The president warned that the automatic cuts, totaling about $85 billion over the course of this year, would prompt job losses, weakened national security and canceled government services - among other consequences.

"So these cuts are not smart, they are not fair, they will hurt our economy, they will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls," Obama said in a statement at the White House. "This is not an abstraction; people will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again."

The speech featured no new, concrete proposal from the president detailing how he would prefer for Congress to replace the sequester. Democrats in Congress released a plan last week that called for $55 billion in new revenues from closing tax loopholes and deductions, and additional cuts by $27.5 billion to each the defense and discretionary spending budgets over the course of the next decade.

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