By Jeremy Herb
President Obama on Saturday called for a full replacement of the sequester on the heels of the quick passage of legislation in Congress to stop furloughs of air traffic controllers in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In his weekly address, Obama said that the FAA furloughs were only one of many problems caused by sequestration, and urged Congress to do more than pass the “Band-Aid” to stop the flight delays that were occurring under the automatic cuts.
“Congress passed a temporary fix. A Band-Aid. But these cuts are scheduled to keep falling across other parts of the government that provide vital services for the American people,” Obama said.
“And we can’t just keep putting Band-Aids on every cut. It’s not a responsible way to govern. There is only one way to truly fix the sequester: by replacing it before it causes further damage,” he added.
The fix to correct one problem caused by sequestration highlighted the willingness of Congress and the Obama administration to provide some “flexibility” to adjust the cuts.
Obama cited in his address other impacts of sequestration that Congress and the administration have not had the same urgency to correct.
“Because of these reckless cuts, there are parents whose kids just got kicked out of Head Start programs scrambling for a solution,” he said. “There are seniors who depend on programs like Meals on Wheels to live independently looking for help. There are military communities — families that have already sacrificed enough — coping under new strains. All because of these cuts.”
Republicans and the Obama administration have engaged in an elaborate blame game over who is responsible for sequester, a political battle that has continued even after the cuts took effect in March.
Obama claimed Saturday that Republicans “claimed victory” when the sequester first took effect, but now they’ve “decided it was a bad idea all along.”
“Well, first, they should look at their own budget,” he said. “If the cuts they propose were applied across the board, the FAA would suffer cuts three times deeper.”
While the FAA fix was conducted swiftly, it seems unlikely that there is a desire between the two parties to do much more in order to reverse other effects of sequestration.