WASHINGTON -- The nation's Republican governors called for President Barack Obama to "show leadership" on fiscal issues, while urging Obama and Congress to stay in Washington until the sequestration threat is resolved.
The Republican Governors Association (RGA) leadership used a Monday afternoon press conference, immediately following a White House meeting between governors and Obama, to highlight frustrations they have with the president and Congress on the mandatory spending cuts due to take effect at the end of week. Governors from both parties have been in Washington since Friday for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, chairman of the RGA, placed the sequester blame on Obama, suggesting he should emulate the governors, who do not run their states by "manufactured crisis."
"It is time for the president to show leadership," Jindal said. "He has been engaged in nonstop campaigning, trying to scare the American people. Now he is trying to scare the states.”
Jindal was referring to a report released by the White House Sunday, which detailed the impact that looming spending cuts would have on each state.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the RGA vice chairman, used the press conference to highlight the fiscal records that he and other Republican governors have compiled and declared the federal government could learn from them. He said that governors have made the spending cuts needed to balance budgets and that the federal government could make necessary cuts as well.
Jindal and Walker both argued that the level of cuts under sequester -- about $83 billion -- could be made by eliminating "waste" and not through reducing key federal services, including food inspection and health programs. They also rejected calls for new taxes.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, an RGA executive committee member, declared, "My kids could go and find $83 billion out of a $4 trillion budget. This is not rocket science.”
Haley laid the blame with Democrats and Republicans, saying that Obama and Congress should stay in Washington until a sequestration solution is found. Congress returned to the nation's capital Monday following a nine-day recess.
"No one should be going home. No one should be taking vacations," she said. "They should be doing what governors do every day. We stay until we get it done.”
Governors from both parties have been expressing frustration over how the looming federal budget cuts will hit their states. They have been asking for "flexible federalism" to implement the cuts in a way that works for their own state, instead of a one-size-fits-all model.
Over the past few days, some Democratic governors have placed the blame for sequester squarely on Republicans. New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan told The Huffington Post on Sunday that Congress should adopt Obama's latest budget proposal.
But Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), vice chairwoman of the National Governors Association, said Friday that "everybody" is to blame.
On Monday, Haley repeated a theme expressed by many of her gubernatorial colleagues during the course of the conference.
"Thank God for the governors in this country. We are the only ones who can provide leadership," she said.