Barack Obama has defended the US government’s decision to free hundreds of detained illegal immigrants in order to save money.
The move has been fiercely criticised as a dangerous political stunt ahead of the start of Friday’s widespread budget cuts of some 65-billion euros. A deal in Congress would halt the move but the two sides remain far apart and there’s been hardly any talks since the New Year.
Speaking during a visit to Newport News Shipbuilding shipyard, where navy aircraft maintainance has been delayed, the US president said: “There are too many Republicans in Congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch when it comes to closing tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks and that’s what holding things up right now. Keep in mind no one is asking them to raise income tax rates. All we are asking is to concern closing tax loopholes and deductions that the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, said he was willing to do just a few months ago.”
In response, the House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner accused the president of overplaying the cuts to promote long-held plans to close tax loophooles: “For sixteen months the President has been traveling all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders in order to try and forge an agreement over there in order to move a bill,” he said.
Public services, such as the military, are expected to be hit particularly hard if the spending cuts are enacted with thousands perhaps forced to take unpaid leave – a move with far reaching consequences. The cuts will be brought in gradually over seven months so no shock to the economy is expected when they start on Friday, giving lawmakers a chance to halt the worst effects in fresh budget talks next month.