“Are you willing to see a bunch of first responders lose their jobs because you want to protect some special interest loophole?” Obama said from the White House, where he was surrounded by emergency personnel who could be furloughed or laid off if the cuts move forward.
“Are you willing to see teachers laid off or kids lose access to Head Start?” he said.
The event was the latest effort by Obama to increase pressure on House Republicans, who have repeatedly argued it was the president himself who agreed to include the sequester as part of a 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling.
After accepting $600 billion in tax increases and no spending cuts as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal, the GOP says it is unwilling to replace the sequester with anything other than a plan to reduce spending.
They argue Obama is presenting a false choice. They note that the wealthiest Americans already saw their tax rates rise in January’s deal, and say it is time for Obama to confront the nation's spiraling debt.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Obama has failed to offer a credible alternative to the sequester based on spending cuts.
“Washington Democrats’ newfound concern about the president’s sequester is appreciated, but words alone won’t avert it," he said. "Replacing the president’s sequester will require a plan to cut spending that will put us on the path to a budget that is balanced in 10 years. To keep these first responders on the job, what other spending is the president willing to cut?”
Obama argued the sequester will impose real pain on real people if Congress does not take action, and said Republicans were accepting painful spending cuts to protect “special interest” tax breaks.
For more on Obama's remarks, click here.