President Barack Obama just completed his second press conference on the ongoing deficit reduction and debt limit talks.
Obama used the opportunity to call for “the biggest deal possible,” and if not a big $4 trillion deal, then a mini-big deal, rather than raise the debt limit without reducing spending.
He said “we should not even be this close,” to the deadline without a deal, and called on Republicans and Democrats to put aside politics to make the tough decisions necessary to lower the deficit in a “balanced” way.
The President said he endorses some entitlement reforms, including means-testing Medicare to ensure the program’s longevity, but refused to say whether he would support raising the retirement age as part of an agreement.
Obama criticised House Republicans for proposing $2.4 trillion in spending cuts with no revenues saying, “The notion that we would be doing that and not asking anything from the wealthiest among us or from closing corporate loopholes — that doesn’t seem like a serious plan to me.”
He said it’s a problem that some in Congress are “dug in ideologically,” and unwilling to compromise on a deal. He added “we don’t need a Constitutional amendment to do our jobs,” criticising House Republicans who have made any deal on raising the debt limit contingent on passing such an agreement.
Obama said that the American people don’t care about the details or the personalities involved in the negotiations, or if anyone had their feelings hurt — saying they just want a deal.
He added he doesn’t care what people say about him — that he only wants a “balanced” agreement.
Read the live-blog transcript below:
11:38am | And we’re done.
11:37am | Obama says debt and deficit debate, if extended, will distract from dealing with other important issues — including education and infrastructure..
11:36am | Obama says he has had some problem selling his proposals to his own party.
11:36am | Obama: “we know how to create a package” that can reduce the debt and deficit for a significant period of time.
11:35am | Obama says there may be some movement to get something more than the bare minimum done.
11:34am | “The American people don’t want a bunch of sound-bites, they want us to solve this problem.”
11:32am | There will be huge differences between now and 2012 between the parties. And whoever the Republican nominee is, we’re going to have a serious debate about the issues.” Obama: I am confident I will win that debate.
11:31am | Obama brings up infrastructure bank and trade deals that he says are job creators.
11:31am | “Even once we do this, we still have a lot of work to do.“
11:30am | Obama says the American people are “obsessing” about the unemployment rate still being “too high” and that their homes are underwater.
11:29am | “I don’t expect politicians not to think about politics,” but every so often there are issues where you have to take a step away from what your base wants.
11:28am | Obama says he “genuinely doesn’t watch” what’s said about him on cable. Doesn’t read what’s said about him in the papers. Says what people says about him “will not be an impediment to reaching a deal.”
11:28am | Obama asked about “tone” of this debate.
11:27am | Asked if he still has hope, Obama “I always have hope. Don’t you remember by campaign?”.
11:26am | Problem with raising the debt ceiling has been manufactured… Obama says he wants to solve the “real” problem of deficit reduction, which he said McConnell plan would not do.
11:25am | Obama says McConnell’s plan “would avert Armageddon.”
11:25am | “We don’t have to gut Social Security”
11:24am | Obama blames Bush tax cuts, wars, and the recession for the current crisis.
11:23am | Obama says “we are not Greece, we are not Portugal.” Says we don’t need a “radical” solution.
11:22am | Obama reiterates “We don’t need a Constitutional amendment to do our jobs.” “This notion that we are going to go through a multi-year process instead of seizing the moment now is a typical Washington response…We need to make the tough choices”.
11:21am | “The bottom line is this is not a position of salesmanship to the American people. The American people are sold.
11:19am | Obama says there are aspects of Bowles-Simpson that he endorses, and those that he doesn’t. Too much many defence cuts, for starters.
11:19am | Obama says people don’t care if anyone’s feelings were hurt in the debt talks. Says they want an agreement..
11:18am | NBC’s Chuck Todd asks Obama if he regrets not embracing the “Bowles-Simpson plan..
11:17am | Obama stops short of saying payroll tax cut or unemployment insurance extension are required in a deal.
11:16am | Obama says he thinks of deficit reduction talks “like a layer cake.” You can add on more to the base.
11:15am | Obama endorses another payroll tax cut and the extension of unemployment insurance. “I think Americans would benefit from both.”
11:14am | Obama says some of the balanced budget amendments floating around out there would require cutting Social Security and Medicare “substantially.” “We don’t need a Constitutional amendment,” he added.
11:13am | Obama says plan not including cutting oil company tax breaks “is not serious” and would not earn his support.
11:12am | Obama says he hopes to see the “logjam” broken in the next few days.
11:11am | Obama asked about House plan to vote on a $2.4 trillion plan with a balanced budget amendment. He says he hasn’t seen it, but says he expects the House of Representatives to vote on a number of plans “to make a political statement.
11:09am | Obama would not comment on whether he supports raising the retirement age, but says it was considered.
11:08am | Obama adds he would not support “restructuring” Medicare
11:06am | ABC’s Jake Tapper asks what entitlement reforms President Obama is willing to include. Obama says he wants to make sure current beneficiaries “as much as possible,” are not affected. But he endorses means-testing Medicare. Says people like him should pay more. Jokes he is about to get his AARP card soon.
11:05am | Obama says “we are running out of time.” Said he told Congress they need to give him a plan in the next 24-36 hours.
11:04am | Obama says the fall-back position — and least desirable option—is one in which “we raise the debt ceiling, but don’t make any progress on deficit reduction.” Takes a page out of the Republican party playbook here.
11:04am | “We should not be asking [the less fortunate] to make sacrifices if we are not asking the most fortunate to make some sacrifices too.“
11:03am | Obama says he hopes Congress isn’t just listening to corporate lobbyists, “but also to the American people” who say a deal should have a balanced approach and include some Revenues. Cites poll showing majority of Republicans support a deal including new revenues.
11:02am | Obama still calling for tax reforms and cuts to corporate subsidies. He says if they do, “it will not only impress the financial markets, but also the American people.”
11:01am | Obama says “we have a unique opportunity to do something big. Says a deal still possible “if we’re willing to seize the moment” and engage in “shared sacrifice.“
10:59am | Obama remind Americans that the debt ceiling is not “an abstract issue.”
10:59am | Here is President Obama.
10:55am | Obama will certainly be asked to weigh in on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “last-ditch” debt ceiling plan.
10:54am | Also, we expect questions on Republican demands for including the passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling.
10:53am | Obama will likely be asked about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s accusation that he “abruptly and angrily” walked out of the debt limit negotiations on Wednesday.
10:51am | We’re expecting President Obama in about 10 minutes, though past experience dictates he will likely be a few minutes late.
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