President Obama placed blame for the supercommittee’s failure squarely on Republicans Monday, and said he would veto any attempt to circumvent the automatic cuts that have been triggered.
Speaking shortly after the deficit reduction committee announced it had failed to reach an agreement on a deficit reduction deal, Obama said too many Republicans refused to “listen to the voices of reason” that were calling for a compromise.
The president credited Democrats for a willingness to consider cuts to Medicaid and Medicare in exchange for tax increases on the wealthy, but said Republicans “simply will not budge from their position” on taxes, which he says was “the main stumbling block” to an agreement.
The supercommittee’s failure to reach an agreement triggered a sequestration mechanism, which will cut $1.2 trillion from defense and discretionary spending over the next 10 years. Obama said the only way to avoid these cuts will be for Congress to come up with a deficit reduction deal before the cuts take place in 2013.
“I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts,” he said. “There will be no easy off-ramps on this one, we need to keep the pressure up on a compromise.”
“We still have a year,” he added.
The president said a “balanced approach” where “everyone pays their fair share” is widely supported by Americans, but that Republicans are too concerned with protecting the wealthy.
“We can only hope that those fighting so hard to protect tax increases on the wealthy will work just as hard to protect the middle class from those same tax increases,” he said.
The president said that unlike during the debt ceiling negotiations in August, in which the country faced a potential debt default, there is no such imminent danger stemming from the supercommittee’s failure on Monday.
Standard & Poor’s confirmed that the U.S. debt outlook would remain unchanged despite the lack of a deal.