Obama warns sequester will cause job losses

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is warning that "people will lose their jobs" if across-the-board budget cuts take effect as scheduled next week.

 

Obama says the $85 billion in cuts -- known as the sequester -- are "severe" and says they won't help the economy and won't create jobs.

Retired Marine Sgt. Richard Gilbert is already feeling the pinch. 

"I was told that the government can no longer fund my position," he said. 

Gilbert, who served two tours in Iraq, will be laid off this Friday from a part-time position with a ship repair facility as a technical writer.  

"We fix ships, so you know the people who aren't fixing ships are considered the quote, 'fat of the process,'" he said. 

Gilbert, a student at UC San Diego, is not alone. Even those who fix the ships may be in trouble because between 10 and 30 contracts for maintenance in San Diego will either be postponed or canceled if sequestration happens.  

It is not just defense that will be affected by the cuts. Obama added that Border Patrol agents will lose hours and FBI agents will be furloughed. 

Obama is calling the across-the-board cuts a "meat cleaver" approach to reducing the deficit. He says the cuts would impact the nation's military readiness and investment in areas like education.

He's calling on Republicans to back a plan proposed by Senate Democrats that would offset the sequester through a combination of increased tax revenue and targeted budget cuts. GOP lawmakers are opposed to more tax revenue, saying Obama got the tax increases he wanted during the "fiscal cliff" negotiations.

In a statement following Obama's remarks, House Speaker John Boehner said the debate over any possible tax increase is over, that "spending is the problem and spending must be the focus."

Instead of working on a solution, Congress took a recess this week, which does not sit well with Gilbert.  

"Congress gets a paid vacation while I'm getting laid off," he said. "I don't think Congress cares about the people of the country." 

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