President Obama chided House Republicans for seeking steep cuts to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food safety budget during a news conference at the White House Wednesday.
Obama noted that tax increases must remain on the table as both parties seek agreement on defecit reduction, in a presser that covered a broad range of topics, from Libya to gay rights.
“If we do not have revenues, that means there are a bunch of kids out there who are not getting college scholarships,” said Obama. “If we do not have those revenues, then the kinds of cuts that would be required might compromise the National Weather Service. It means that we would not be funding critical medical research. It means that food inspection might be compromised.”
House Republicans recently cleared an appropriations bill that would cut $285 million from FDA’s budget — and 11.5 percent cut compared to fiscal year 2011 — $87 million of which would hit food regulatory capacity at time when the agency is implementing a sweeping new food safety law, which Mr. Obama signed into law in January.
“And I’ve said to some of the Republican leaders, you go talk to your constituents, the Republican constituents, and ask them are they willing to compromise their kids’ safety so that some corporate jet owner continues to get a tax break,” asked Obama.
“It would be nice if we could keep every tax break there is, but we’ve got to make some tough choices here if we want to reduce our deficit,” added the president. “And if we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, if we choose to keep a tax break for corporate jet owners, if we choose to keep tax breaks for oil and gas companies that are making hundreds of billions of dollars, then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship. That means we’ve got to stop funding certain grants for medical research. That means that food safety may be compromised.”
Obama emphasized that his administration would focus on streamlining government regulation.
“I’ve got an obligation to make sure that we’re upholding smart regulations that protect our air and protect our water and protect our food,” he said. “If you’re flying on a plane, you want to make sure that there are some regulations in place to assure safety in air travel, right? So there are some core regulations that we’ve got to maintain.”
The full press conference can be viewed at whitehouse.gov.