Obama signs sequester order, blames Republicans over budget impasse

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“It’s going to mean less growth,” Mr. Obama said.”It’s going to mean hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. “

Although he has been painting a picture of dire consequences from the cuts, Mr. Obama also tried to convince the public Friday that the impact wouldn’t be calamitous.

“We will get through this,” he said. “This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think, as some people have said. It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt individual people, and it’s going to hurt the economy overall.”

The president, at times sounding annoyed and frustrated, portrayed Republicans as caring more about wealthy taxpayers than the people who sweep the floors of their offices.

“Starting tomorrow, everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol — now that Congress has left, somebody’s going to be vacuuming and cleaning those floors and throwing out the garbage,” Mr. Obama said. “They’re going to have less pay, the janitors, the security guards. They just got a pay cut, and they got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real.”

The president sounded as if he had an eye on next year’s congressional elections as he talked about the economic impact and the political blame.

“Every time that we get a piece of economic news over the next month, next two months, next six months, as long as the sequester’s in place, we’ll know that that economic news could have been better if Congress had not failed to act,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s happening because [of] a choice that Republicans in Congress have made.”

Asked if he shares any of the blame for the impasse, Mr. Obama could not conceive of it.

“Give me an example of what I might do,” he replied to a reporter. “What more do you think I should do? I am not a dictator, I’m the president.”

Asked if he could have insisted on longer negotiating sessions with the Republicans leaders, the president retorted, “Ultimately, if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say, ‘We need to go to catch a plane,’ I can’t have Secret Service block the doorway, right?”

Mr. Boehner said the House next week will take up a measure aimed at keeping the government running beyond the end of March, when the current appropriations law expires.

The president said he will renew efforts to talk to individual lawmakers to build support for his proposal to end the sequester cuts.

“The greatest nation on Earth does not conduct its business in month-to-month increments or by careening from crisis to crisis,” Mr. Obama said. “And America’s got a lot more work to do.”

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