UPDATE 2-Obama turns to local TV to press Republicans to avert cuts

Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:09pm EST
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* Speaks to eight TV anchors from across America

* Pentagon describes plans for layoffs

* Obama taken to task for corporate jet comments

By Roberta Rampton and Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama turned to local television stations across the United States on Wednesday to increase public pressure on congressional Republicans to avert $85 billion in budget cuts set to begin in nine days.

Obama scheduled five-minute interviews with television stations in eight media markets, most of which have a strong military presence, on a day when the Pentagon described its plans for laying off some 800,000 civilian employees for 22 days to save money.

In the interviews, reporters referred to forecasts of potential job losses in their states: 12,000 jobs in Maryland and 60,000 jobs in Massachusetts, for example.

"What I say to them is that there's no reason they should be furloughed, there's no reason they should lose their jobs or be laid off. This is a problem Congress can solve," Obama said in an interview with Baltimore CBS affiliate WJZ.

The interviews are part of an administration strategy to lay blame for the job losses on Republicans, who control the House of Representatives and are insisting on deeper spending cuts to reduce the $16 trillion national debt.   Continued...