President Barack Obama delivered brief remarks on the debt talks at this afternoon’s press briefing. Obama stood by the Bowles-Simpson commission, stating that a deficit reduction deal needs to include both revenue increases and spending cuts, including cuts to entitlement programs.
The president said he was opposed to any short-term debt ceiling increases, imploring Congress not to “kick the can down the road.”
Obama has invited Congressional leaders, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Senate Minority Whip John Kyl, to the White House Thursday to try to reach a deal on deficit reduction and raising the debt limit.
Our live blog of Obama’s remarks is below:
4:48: Obama is on.
4:50: “I believe that right now we’ve got a unique opportunity to do something big.”
4:51: Obama says he is willing to make cuts in entitlement programs in exchange for tax increases. Says he believes there are enough people in both parties that are willing to do that:
“We need to take on spending in domestic programs, in defence programs, in entitlement programs, and we need to take on spending in the tax code — spending on certain tax breaks and deductions for the wealthiest of Americans. This will require both parties to get out of our comfort zones, and both parties to agree on real compromise.”
4:52: White House and Congressional leadership are meeting Thursday night. Obama says both parties need to “leave their ultimatums at the door.”
4:53: “This should not come down to the last second.” Obama leaves the press room.
4:54: Obama is now standing by the Bowles-Simpson commission, saying cuts and spending need o be included in a deficit reduction deal. “That’s what the bipartisan fiscal commission said.” He was quick to step away from the commission’s spending cuts when it was released — but times have changed.
UPDATE, 5:30: U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) responded to Obama’s remarks today, saying that deficit reduction talks will be “fruitless” unless Obama abandons his calls to raise revenue.
“The legislation the President has asked for – which would increase taxes on small businesses and destroy more American jobs – cannot pass the House, as I have stated repeatedly,” Boehner said in a statement.
UPDATE, 6:25: Here is the response from U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
“I view Thursday’s meeting as an opportunity for the congressional leadership and the President to talk about what’s actually possible. I view it as an opportunity to know whether or not the President will finally agree to a serious plan to reduce the deficit. Or if in the middle of a debt crisis, he’ll insist on more stimulus spending; whether in the middle of a jobs crisis, he’ll continue to insist on hundreds of billions in tax hikes that we know—and he has acknowledged—will kill jobs. Republicans in Congress believe that finding a way to reduce the deficit and prevent Medicare’s bankruptcy should be the goal. These discussions are not about rich and poor or an election but they’re about making Washington take the hit and make some tough choices for a change—not the taxpayers and job creators.”
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