NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia - President Barack Obama Tuesday warned imminent government budget cuts that could cost jobs and cut services were wrong, not smart, not fair and a self-inflicted economic wound.
Obama traveled to a yard which builds some of the US Navy's biggest ships, including hulking nuclear aircraft carriers and attack submarines, to warn of the impact of the arbitrary, automatic cuts known as the sequester.
"These cuts are wrong, they are not smart, they are not fair," Obama said in a vast assembly hall, with the yet-to-be-attached screw propeller of a ship behind him, and the huge nose section of a submarine off to his right.
"They are a self-inflicted wound that doesn't have to happen."
Obama warned that Republicans in Washington did not want to share sacrifices for cutting the deficit, as they dig in and refuse his call to raise more revenues by closing loopholes in the tax code.
"There are too many Republicans in Congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch when it comes to closing tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks," Obama told hundreds of shipbuilders in a campaign-style event.
Obama's trip was his latest effort to hike pressure on Republicans by laying out the impact of the sequester, which could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and hit US economic growth after it is imposed on Friday.
"I need you, Virginia, to keep up the pressure... if you stand up and speak out, Congress will listen," Obama, a Democrat, said.
He was accompanied, unusually, on Air Force One by a Republican congressman, Scott Rigell, who is caught between his own party and the fate of his own local constituents who could be furloughed when the sequester hits.
Rigell, who said he made the trip to grab some private time with the president, warned "our country has a spending problem," but also backed Obama's plan to avert the sequester by targeted budget cuts and higher revenues.
"I also believe that revenue has to come up a bit, first by growing the economy, but also by tax reform which also includes eliminating lobbyist-inspired, lobbyist-written loopholes. I am in favor of that."
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