Blog: The Educated Reporter

During Press Brief, President Warns Spending Cuts Could Hurt Education

Today President Obama addressed reporters during a White House briefing on the sequester. While gauging the effect sequestration will have on the economy is difficult, the president has stressed the impending fiscal straightjacket could have serious implications for businesses, education institutions, the defense industry, and this country’s infrastructure.

The word “education” appeared in his remarks and answers to reporters seven times. The block quotes are reposted below:

“At a time when our businesses have finally begun to get some traction — hiring new workers, bringing jobs back to America — we shouldn’t be making a series of dumb, arbitrary cuts to things that businesses depend on and workers depend on, like education, and research, and infrastructure and defense.  It’s unnecessary.  And at a time when too many Americans are still looking for work, it’s inexcusable.

Look, we’ve already cut $2.5 trillion in our deficit.  Everybody says we need to cut $4 trillion, which means we have to come up with another trillion and a half.  The vast majority of economists agree that the problem when it comes to deficits is not discretionary spending.  It’s not that we’re spending too much money on education.  It’s not that we’re spending too much money on job training, or that we’re spending too much money rebuilding our roads and our bridges.  We’re not.

“We have a Budget Control Act, right?  We agreed to a certain amount of money that was going to be spent each year, and certain funding levels for our military, our education system, and so forth.  If we stick to that deal, then I will be supportive of us sticking to that deal.  It’s a deal that I made. 

“But if I’m a man or woman in uniform in Afghanistan right now, the notion that my spouse back home is having to worry about whether or not our kids are getting the best education possible, the notion that my school for my children on an Army base might be disrupted because Congress didn’t act, that’s an impact.  Now, Mayor Bloomberg and others may not feel that impact.  I suspect they won’t.  But that family will.

“Now, what is absolutely true is that not everybody is going to feel it.  Not everybody is going to feel it all at once.  What is true is that the accumulation of those stories all across this country, folks who suddenly — might have been working all their lives to get an education, just so that they can get that job and get out of welfare and they’ve got their kid in Head Start, and now, suddenly, that Head Start slot is gone and they’re trying to figure out how am I going to keep my job, because I can’t afford child care for my kid; some of the suppliers for those shipbuilders down in Virginia, where you’ve got some suppliers who are small businesses, this is all they do, and they may shut down those companies, and their employees are going to be laid off — the accumulation of all of those stories of impact is going to make our economy weaker.  It’s going to mean less growth.  It’s going to mean hundreds of thousands of jobs lost.

“So if you set aside budget fights for a second, we’ve been able to get now the Violence Against Women Act done.  The conversations that are taking place on a bipartisan basis around immigration reform are moving forward.  We’ve seen great interest in a bipartisan fashion around how we can continue to improve our education system, including around early childhood education.  There have been constructive discussions around how do we reduce gun violence.”