Local TV gets presidential exclusive

Surrounded by first responders who may be impacted by looming budget cuts, President Barack Obama speaks on February 19, 2013 in Washington, DC.

President Obama is trying to pressure Congress to avoid $85 billion in federal budget cuts set to take effect March first. The president gave interviews Wednesday to eight local TV stations in markets with a lot at stake in the fight over the so-called sequester cuts.

One of the president’s interviews was with WJZ-TV in Baltimore. He had this message for Maryland workers who could be forced to take unpaid leaves because of the budget cuts:

“There’s no reason they should be furloughed or layed off," he said. "This is a problem that Congress can solve.”

Almost all of stations the president talked to are in places with defense installations that play a large role in their economies.

Larry Sabato, who teaches political science at the University of Virginia, says the president is trying to bring the cuts, known in Washington as the sequester, home.

“He’s using local economics to show people that the sequester is not simply an odd word," he explains.  "It has real world consequences and could cost some of them their jobs.”

The strategy could succeed, in the short run, says Jack Pitney, who teaches government at Claremont McKenna College. But Pitney has a word of caution for the president.

"In the long run, if the economy suffers as a result of the sequester, he’s the one that’s going to suffer,” Pitney says.

Because voters tend to blame the White House for the state of the economy. 

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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