Obama, leaders meet about sequester

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Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 13, 2009.(Photo by Pete Souza) (Pete Souza, © 2008 Pete Souza)
Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 13, 2009.(Photo by Pete Souza) (Pete Souza, © 2008 Pete Souza)
Updated: 3/01/2013 11:28 am Published: 3/01/2013 10:23 am

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says Americans will get through the automatic spending cuts kicking in Friday.

Obama says the nation shouldn't be making "dumb and arbitrary" cuts. He says Republicans have allowed the cuts to happen.

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.

Obama spoke after a meeting with congressional leaders that yielded no immediate results.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin released a statement about sequestration and the looming federal budget cuts to the military and government agencies.

"Oklahoma agencies have had months to prepare for a reduction in federal funds. While it is still unclear how many dollars each state agency will lose, we do not expect an immediate loss in state services. Months ago, I asked my cabinet secretaries and state agency directors to plan ahead for sequestration. We believe the state is well-prepared.

"With that said, it is clear the sequester is creating a chaotic and uncertain environment for businesses looking to invest, state governments tasked with crafting budgets, and those who receive federal benefits or who work for or contract with the government. That uncertainty is bad for the economy and is destroying jobs. Furthermore, the large and seemingly haphazard cuts to military spending reduce the effectiveness of our armed services and hurt the economies of states with large military presences, such as Oklahoma.

"President Obama has said he doesn't like the sequester, but he has not laid out a viable alternative. It is now up to him to work with Congress and deliver solutions. That starts with getting serious about spending cuts.

"In Oklahoma, we faced a budget shortfall of over $500 million in 2011 - nearly ten percent of our total budget. Like other states, we made tough choices, cut spending and worked to make state government more efficient and effective. We balanced our budget. There is no reason the federal government cannot do the same."

The president wants Republicans to drop their opposition to using some new tax revenue to offset the cuts. And he says members of his own party must accept some changes to government entitlement programs."

Congressman Markwayne Mullin issued the following statement on the automatic across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration.

“Today marks the beginning of the across-the-board spending cuts called the sequester. It is unfortunate that in Washington, nobody can agree to make the spending cuts needed to replace the sequester.

Oklahomans have seen through the ratcheted-up political rhetoric coming from both the White House and Congress. They are ready for the dysfunction to stop and for this country to get back on stable fiscal footing by making common-sense cuts to federal spending that do not threaten public safety, national defense or the economy.

The higher taxes President Obama is campaigning for will not help our businesses, families or the economy. However, spending cuts and staying on course to a balanced budget will help Oklahoma taxpayers who have already been hit by spiking gas prices and an increase in the payroll tax.

There is plenty of waste to be trimmed from the federal budget. The free cellular phone program that has angered a number of callers to our congressional offices will cost $2.2 billion in 2013 alone, not to mention the money we have already spent on the program that our federal government has no business funding in the first place.

The 2.4 percent sequester cut to federal spending translates to about $85 billion this year. In 2011, the federal government made $115 billion in improper payments to people who were not entitled to receive those payments or who had not provided proper documentation to qualify for the payments.

Clearly federal spending is out of control and it is not difficult to find more savings for taxpayers, but that will require strong leaders who are willing to look past their next election, putting Party aside and putting Country first."

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