President Obama assembled the first Cabinet meeting of his second term Monday, welcoming the newest members of his team as he kicked off a discussion he said would involve ways to mitigate the impact of the deep federal spending cuts that began kicking in last Friday.
“Obviously, we’re going to be spending some time talking about the potential impact of the sequester on all the agencies and missions across the board,” Obama said at the top of the meeting. “It is an area of deep concern and I think everybody knows where I stand on this issue. We are going to manage it as best we can, try to minimize the impacts on American families, but it’s not the right way for us to go about deficit reduction.”
The combination of defense and domestic spending cuts known as the sequester started last Friday as the White House and lawmakers failed to reach an agreement to avert them.
Obama said the cuts were not the right way to reduce the deficit, and promised to try to forge a bipartisan solution that involves both spending cuts and a tax revenue increase.
“I will continue to seek out partners on the other side of the aisle so that we can create the kind of balanced approach of spending cuts, revenues, entitlement reform that everybody knows is the right way to do things,” he said.
The president also welcomed the newest members of his Cabinet on Monday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, each of whom were recently confirmed by the Senate.
In addition to fiscal issues, Obama also said he planned to discuss immigration reform, education and reducing gun violence with his Cabinet. He vowed not to let the sequester halt his administration’s work in other areas.
“One of the things that I’ve instructed not just my White House but every agency is to make sure that, regardless of some of the challenges that they may face because of sequestration, we’re not going to stop working on behalf of the American people to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to continue to grow this economy and improve people’s prospects,” Obama said.