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Small steps could delay sequestration long enough, says Obama

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President Obama urged Congress Tueday to pass a small package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would head off the March 1 onset of sequestration and give more time to work out a long-term federal spending deal, although House Republicans quickly rejected any measure involving greater revenue collection.

In a Feb. 5 statement, Obama said a cuts and taxes package could delay sequestration and give Congress more time to develop directed budget cuts "instead of making indiscriminate cuts now that will cost us jobs and significantly slow down our recovery."

Sequestration, previously delayed, would cut roughly $85 billion in federal spending through Sept. 30. 

The president, although short on specifics, suggested Congress make small cuts using the proposals he made during fiscal cliff negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), including Medicare reforms and health care proposals that "achieve the same amount of savings by the beginning of the next decade" as reforms proposed in the Simpson-Bowles commission.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said Tuesday that talks should focus on making the tax code simpler and fairer. "The President's proposal is nothing more than another tax hike to pay for more Washington spending," he said.

Budget deals over the past year have achieved more than $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction out of the $4 trillion that economists and officials from both parties have said is required to stabilize the debt, the president said.

Also on Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office released a report saying the federal budget deficit could drop below $1 trillion in fiscal 2013, something that hasn't happened in 5 years.

For more:
- read a copy of the president's speech
- see related responses from Camp and Boehner

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