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President Barack Obama urged the nation’s governors to lobby Congress to avoid sequestration cuts during a Monday morning speech to the National Governor’s Association.

Speaking from the State Dining Room of the White House, the president warned that the sequester will kill jobs and devastate the economy — and reminded the governors that “these cuts don’t have to happen.”

“Congress can turn them off anytime with just a little compromise,” Obama added. He then renewed his vow to agree to spending cuts — including “modest reforms” to Medicare — in exchange for closing tax loopholes that benefit the highest-earning Americans. With just four days to go until the sequester is scheduled to take effect, however, there have been no sustained negotiations to avoid the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts.

To help break the stalemate, the president urged the governors to speak to their states’ congressional delegations, and “remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake, and exactly who is at risk.” There is some reason to believe that the nation’s governors will be prove to be a more willing partner than Congress; over the weekend, several Republican governors spoke out to urge their congressional counterparts to protect their states from the devastating cuts.

Video of a portion of Obama’s speech is below, via NBC News:

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President Obama also urged the governors to support some of the elements of his second-term agenda that he laid out during his State of the Union address. Name-checking Republican governors such as Tennessee’s Bill Haslam, Georgia’s Nathan Deal, and Wyoming’s Matt Mead, Obama made the case that new investments in infrastructure and early-childhood education have broad bipartisan appeal.

“Democrat, Republican, blue state, red state, it doesn’t matter,” Obama said.

“At some point, we’ve got to do some governing,” the president concluded. “And certainly what we can’t do is keep careening from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.”

President Obama’s full remarks to the National Governor’s Association can be seen here.


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