Newport News, Virginia - February 26, 2013

1. SOUNDBITE: (English) Barack Obama, U.S. President;

"What the sequester does, it used a meat cleaver approach to gut critical investments in things like education and national security and life saving medical research. And, the impact of this policy won't be felt overnight, but it will be real. The sequester will weaken America's economic recovery. It will weaken our military readiness and it will weaken the basic services that the American people depend on every single day. Already the uncertainty around these cuts is having an effect. Companies are starting to prepare for layoff notices, families are starting to cut back expenses and the longer these cuts are in place the greater the damage."

2. SOUNDBITE: (English) Barack Obama, U.S. President;

"You know, the problem is when you are cutting 85 billion dollars in seven months, which represents over a ten percent cut in the defense budget in seven months, there is no smart way to do that. There is no smart way to do that. You don't want to have to choose between ... let's say, do I close funding for the disabled kid or the poor kid? Do I close this navy ship yard or some other one? When you are doing things in a way that is not smart, you can't gloss over the pain and the impact it is going to have on the economy."


U.S. President Barack Obama says there's no way to make automatic budget cuts less damaging by giving him the authority to decide what to cut.

Speaking at a shipbuilding site in Virginia, Obama says that there's no smart way to cut $85 billion from the budget in seven months.

He says the country shouldn't be choosing which poor kids should get services or which shipyards should close.

Senate Republicans have suggested giving Obama the flexibility to decide which programs and government functions to cut, instead of letting across-the-board cuts kick in Friday.

Obama is singling out for praise Republicans who have expressed openness to including new revenues from closing loopholes in a deal to avert the cuts.

He is urging Congress to compromise to avoid the cuts, but there has been no indication the White House and congressional Republicans are actively negotiating a deal.