WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Monday he will veto any effort to get rid of automatic spending cuts that would begin to take effect in 2013 if Congress can't find other ways of trimming government deficits.
Those spending cuts include significant reductions to the Pentagon that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said would be devastating to the military.
Obama issued his threat an hour after leaders of Congress' deficit-reduction supercommittee announced that they had failed to reach agreement on cutting the debt. The inability of the bipartisan committee to meet its deadline means the government is facing about $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts that start to kick in in January 2013.
Obama said the threat of those reductions should remain in place to maintain pressure on Congress to find a compromise. He said the only way the automatic spending cuts would not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees to a "balanced plan" to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion.
"That's exactly what they need to do. That's the job they promised to do. They still got a year to figure it out," he said.
The president blamed Republicans directly for the failure of the supercommittee, attributing it to unwillingness among GOP lawmakers to compromise on taxes.
"There are still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington. They continue to insist on protecting $100 billion worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans at any cost," Obama said.
"At this point at least, they simply will not budge from that negotiating position," he said.