Obama mounts local media blitz on sequester

Olivier Knox

President Barack Obama will pound away at Republicans on Wednesday over the automatic “sequester” spending cuts in a series of eight local interviews, the White House announced.

Obama will speak to reporters from Boston, Baltimore, San Francisco, Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Kan., San Antonio, Texas, and Charleston, S.C.

“By speaking to anchors from stations around the country, the President will have an opportunity to focus on the harmful local impacts that will be felt if Congressional Republicans refuse to compromise,” an Obama aide said in an email sent to reporters.

The president has been arguing that the only thing holding up a compromise that would avert the cuts—which both sides have characterized as damaging to national security and the fragile recovery—is Republican opposition to closing tax loopholes that chiefly benefit wealthy Americans or rich corporations. Republicans say Obama already got all of the tax hikes he’s going to get in the deal on the fiscal cliff, and that it's time to focus on spending cuts.

The GOP has also hit the president for proposing fresh infrastructure spending. Obama, said the aide, was to defend that approach in the interviews as “smart investments we need to make to boost our economy even as we reduce the deficit.” Infrastructure spending—on roads, bridges and other structures—is tailor-made for interviews with local anchors. The president could list specific projects—and may well do just that.

“The president will announce a plan to cut federal review and permitting timelines for construction projects such as highways, bridges, railways, ports, waterways, pipelines, and renewable energy,” said the Obama aide, who requested anonymity.

“In talking with local anchors, he will also have the opportunity to discuss specific, important projects in their communities that stand to benefit from these initiatives,” the aide said.