President Barack Obama said Congress has focused on short-term solutions to the budget standoff when it must instead negotiate with him on a “bigger deal” to lower the deficit and help spur economic expansion
Obama, speaking at a White House news conference, said the automatic budget cuts that started taking effect March 1 are damaging to the economy and hurting U.S. citizens. He said that while there is “a genuine desire” among some lawmakers to reach an agreement, others are letting politics stand in the way.
“I cannot force Republicans to embrace those common sense solutions,” Obama said at the news conference which marked 100 days since he was inaugurated for a second term. Lawmakers were elected “to do what’s right for their constituents and the American people.” Instead, he said, Congress has become “pretty dysfunctional,” he said.
The administration and congressional Republicans have been locked in a two-year stalemate over the nation’s finances that has hindered efforts to spur the economy after the worst recession in seven decades. A so-called grand bargain to curb the long-term deficit has proved elusive, with Democrats resisting cuts to Medicare and Social Security, and Republicans opposing tax increases.
Obama cited quick congressional action to let the Federal Aviation Administration work around across-the-board spending cuts to end days of flight delays stemming from air-traffic controller furloughs as an example the short-term actions that lawmakers have been taking.