President Barack Obama hit the links with a comparatively low-key group of partners on Monday, the third and final day of a Florida golf vacation.
Obama played at the Floridian yacht and golf club, where he spent Presidents Day weekend, with departing U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the president’s Chicago pal Eric Whitaker and White House aide Marvin Nicholson, the White House said.
Obama returned home late Monday, with days to go before a March 1 deadline to stop billions of dollars in spending cuts that could potentially cripple the government from kicking in.
With his wife and daughters away on an annual ski trip, Obama arranged a post-State of the Union, mini-vacation for himself to the exclusive club along Florida’s Treasure Coast. The Floridian is owned by Houston businessman Jim Crane, who has donated money to Obama’s political campaigns. The White House barred media coverage of the president’s vacation, but released the names of his golf partners daily.
March 1 is the start date for $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts, known in Washington as “the sequester,” that would drain the money from the Pentagon and other domestic agencies over the next seven months. The White House has warned that thousands of FBI agents, prosecutors, food safety inspectors, air traffic controllers and other federal workers would either be laid off or furloughed.
Obama has called on Congress to pass a smaller package of spending cuts and measures to close tax loopholes to buy time to negotiate a broader agreement. Republicans so far have rejected that idea.
On Friday, Obama was meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Obama telephoned Abe last week to discuss North Korea’s recent nuclear test.