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President Obama’s weekly remarks

Hi, everybody. Over the last few years, Democrats and Republicans have come together and cut our deficit by more than $2.5 trillion through a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. That’s more than halfway towards the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists and elected officials from both parties say we need to stabilize our debt.

I believe we can finish the job the same way we’ve started it — with a balanced mix of more spending cuts and more tax reform. And the overwhelming majority of the American people agree — both Democrats and Republicans.

Now, my preference — and the preference of many Members of Congress — is to do that in a balanced, comprehensive way, by making sensible changes to entitlement programs and reforming our tax code. As we speak, both the House and Senate are working towards budget proposals that I hope will lay out this kind of balanced path going forward.

But the budget process takes time. And right now, if Congress doesn’t act by March 1st, a series of harmful, automatic cuts to job-creating investments and defense spending — also known as the sequester — are scheduled to take effect. And the result could be a huge blow to middle-class families and our economy as a whole.

If the sequester is allowed to go forward, thousands of Americans who work in fields like national security, education or clean energy are likely to be laid off. Firefighters and food inspectors could also find themselves out of work — leaving our communities vulnerable.