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President Obama delivers remarks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ Annual Conference.
President Obama is about to speak to reporters about the meeting this morning with congressional leadership in resolving the sequester.

You can watch a livestream here.

8:41 AM PT: President Obama says we shouldn't be making "dumb, arbitrary cuts" that are unnecessary, and it's inexcusable to be making these cuts now with the economy still trying to grow. So it sounds like not a lot of progress was made in this meeting.

8:42 AM PT: He says that while the cuts won't hit and hurt immediately, they will "grow each passing day," and do real damage to the economy and unemployment.

8:43 AM PT: He slams the GOP Congress, says it has continued to protect tax breaks for the wealthy and well-connected, finding that more important than cuts to defense and other programs.


8:44 AM PT:
Obama: "Sequester could cost 750,000 jobs. None of this is necessary. It's because of a choice Republicans in Congress have made."

@politicoroger via web

8:45 AM PT: He says, "The majority of the American people agree with me," and Republicans need to catch up.

8:46 AM PT: "There are other areas we can make progress," even as they work on resolving the sequester. That includes his agenda as laid out in the state of the union speech.

8:47 AM PT: He's still hinting that he's ready for that grand bargain, including entitlement reforms, that the "caucus of common sense whose voices aren't being heard right now," is ready to do things his party might not like.

8:49 AM PT: "I recognize it's very hard for Republican leaders to appear to be making concessions to me." That's an understatement.

Head below the fold to see what the president had to say about Jedi mind-melds, whether the president can order the Secret Service to hold Boehner and McConnell hostage, Prop 8, and why the deficit isn't the be-all and end-all in our economy.

8:51 AM PT: As the impact of the sequester is being seen, he hopes that Republicans will see that there's a way forward on entitlement reform, tax reform and that "common sense prevails." But Republicans have a made a choice that maintaing an iron-clad rule against any revenue increases is more important than preventing these cuts.

8:52 AM PT: Says Boehner has previously supported ending the tax loopholes and tax breaks was necessary.

8:53 AM PT: He creates a straw man saying that there are those in his own party who say nothing should be done about Medicare. No, Mr. President, members of your party are saying that there shouldn't be benefit cuts in Medicare. There's plenty of room for other reforms that Democrats do support and do see the need for.

8:55 AM PT: "What more do you think I should do?" That's a good, sharp rhetorical question to the Village meme that Obama just isn't leading hard enough.

8:56 AM PT: Says the question isn't whether he's still got enough power of persuasion to bring Republicans around, but whether the Republicans will start listening to their constituents.

8:58 AM PT: On the continuing resolution: we have a deal on the budget, apart from the sequester, and if he gets a bill that is reflective of that deal, he'll sign it.

8:58 AM PT: Another question about why President Obama just can't force them to stay in the room and negotiate. He says he can't use the Secret Service to hold them hostage.

9:00 AM PT: He can't use a "Jedi mind-meld" to make Republicans work with him. He can make the best possible case, talk to the American people, but it's ultimately a choice that Republicans have to make. There's no "secret formula" to make Boehner and McConnell relent on taxes.


9:01 AM PT:
Obama: "I am not a dictator; I'm the president. If McConnell or Boehner want to catch a plane, I can't have the Secret Service block them."

@politicoroger via web

9:04 AM PT: "Not everybody is going to feel it," but as the cuts accumulate are economy will be weaker and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be cut. "That's not a scare tactic. That's a fact."

9:05 AM PT: Says the people who have to clean up after Congress while they're away on a long weekend are getting a pay cut.

9:06 AM PT: Question on Prop 8 case: He says after a "long period of reflection, I concluded we cannot discriminate" on marriage. "We are all created equal applies to everybody."

9:10 AM PT: We've put forward a basic principle, which applies to all equal protection issues: if someone is being specifically discriminated against, the court has to ask why. The basic principle is let's treat everybody fairly, everybody equal.

9:12 AM PT: Another leadership question: why aren't you stopping us from just careening from crisis to crisis? Answer: There's some movement forward on things like VAWA, immigration. We're having constructive discussions on issues like gun violence. But with respect to the budget, he can make the case to the American people for a balanced approach. Finally says that deficit reduction isn't an economic proposal. We need to talk about how to create jobs.

9:13 AM PT: Good pivot to talking about jobs, and infrastructure. The "true north" is how we're helping American families succeed, and the deficit isn't the only part of the answer.

9:15 AM PT: Says maybe Congress will come back from the weekend "in a better mood," and can accomplish something.

9:15 AM PT: "This not going to be an apocalypse. It's just dumb."


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