The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Remarks by the President on the Status of Efforts to Find a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
4:49 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: All right. Hello, everybody. I just wanted to give you an update on the deficit negotiations that we’ve been having for the last several weeks, and I want to wish, again, everybody a Happy Fourth of July.
Over the July Fourth weekend, my team and I had a series of discussions with congressional leaders in both parties. We’ve made progress, and I believe that greater progress is within sight, but I don’t want to fool anybody -- we still have to work through some real differences.
Now, I’ve heard reports that there may be some in Congress who want to do just enough to make sure that America avoids defaulting on our debt in the short term, but then wants to kick the can down the road when it comes to solving the larger problem of our deficit. I don’t share that view. I don’t think the American people sent us here to avoid tough problems. That’s, in fact, what drives them nuts about Washington, when both parties simply take the path of least resistance. And I don’t want to do that here.
I believe that right now we’ve got a unique opportunity to do something big -- to tackle our deficit in a way that forces our government to live within its means, that puts our economy on a stronger footing for the future, and still allows us to invest in that future.
Most of us already agree that to truly solve our deficit problem, we need to find trillions in savings over the next decade, and significantly more in the decades that follow. That’s what the bipartisan fiscal commission said, that’s the amount that I put forward in the framework I announced a few months ago, and that’s around the same amount that Republicans have put forward in their own plans. And that’s the kind of substantial progress that we should be aiming for here.
To get there, I believe we need a balanced approach. We need to take on spending in domestic programs, in defense 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.
I’m ready to do that. I believe there are enough people in each party that are willing to do that. What I know is that we need to come together over the next two weeks to reach a deal that reduces the deficit and upholds the full faith and credit of the United States government and the credit of the American people.
That’s why, even as we continue discussions today and tomorrow, I’ve asked leaders of both parties and both houses of Congress to come here to the White House on Thursday so we can build on the work that’s already been done and drive towards a final agreement. It’s my hope that everybody is going to leave their ultimatums at the door, that we’ll all leave our political rhetoric at the door, and that we’re going to do what’s best for our economy and do what’s best for our people.
And I want to emphasize -- I said this at my press conference -- this should not come down to the last second. I think it’s important for us to show the American people and their leaders that we can find common ground and solve our problems in a responsible way. We know that it’s going to require tough decisions. I think it’s better for us to take those tough decisions sooner rather than later.
That’s what the American people expect of us. That’s what a healthy economy is going to require. That’s the kind of progress that I expect to make. So I promise I will keep you guys updated as time goes on. All right?
Q A couple of questions?
Q Will you take any questions, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: I guarantee you, Jay is going to take a whole bunch of them. (Laughter.)
END 4:54 P.M. EDT