Governors in both parties warned on Sunday of the potentially damaging consequences across the country if President Obama and Congress do not agree on a plan to avoid across-the-board spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect beginning on Friday.
With the prospect of a last-minute agreement in Washington increasingly unlikely, the governors said the scheduled cuts would have a grave impact in a wide range of areas, including the military, Border Patrol and job growth.
“The effects will be significant, and people will feel them,” Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado said on the CBS News program “Face the Nation.”
“There’s been so much uncertainty about what the cuts will be,” said Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, who also appeared on the program. “It’s really going to hurt our economy.”
On Friday, $85 billion in cuts will automatically begin taking effect, with many domestic programs facing reductions of as much as 9 percent and military programs being reduced by 13 percent over the rest of the federal fiscal year.
Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress have been hoping that the threat of drastic automatic cuts – particularly those to the Pentagon – would force Republicans to the bargaining table and lead them to accept a compromise that included a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.
But as of late last week, Republicans made it clear that they would not accept any additional increase in taxes to avoid the scheduled cuts, known as the sequester. Many Republicans believe their party already relented significantly when they agreed on New Year’s Eve to $600 million in tax increases to end the last budget standoff.
On Sunday, some governors held out hope that the president and Congress could still get a deal even at this late stage. But they also insisted that the nation would be hit hard if the cuts were allowed to go into effect.
Appearing on “Face the Nation,” Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland described the sequester cuts as a threat to the economy and seemed to advocate Mr. Obama’s notion of a “balanced approach” that mixed spending cuts and tax increases.
“These are job killing cuts,” he said. “We cannot cut our way to prosperity.”
Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia said that while cuts in government spending were necessary, he expressed concern that the automatic cuts would fall too heavily on the military.
Mr. McDonnell, speaking on “Face the Nation,” faulted Mr. Obama, suggesting he was using the threat of cuts to exact concessions from Republicans. “I think the president is overplaying his hand in order to get people to raise taxes,” he said.