President Obama on Deficit Talks: "We're in the 11th Hour"
Over the weekend, President Obama continued to urge both parties to come together around a balanced package to deficit reduction. Today, the President provided an update on the efforts to lift the debt ceiling and also tackle the underlying challenges we face with our national debt and deficits:
Some progress was made in some of the discussions, some narrowing of the issues. Speaker Boehner and the Republican House caucus felt it necessary to put forward the plan that they're going to be voting on today. I think everyone's estimation is, is that that is not an approach that could pass both chambers, it's not an approach that I would sign and it's not balanced. But I understand the need for them to test that proposition.
The problem we have now is we're in the 11th hour and we don't have a lot more time left. The good news is that today a group of senators, the Gang of Six, Democrats and Republicans -- I guess now Gang of Seven, because one additional Republican senator added on -- put forward a proposal that is broadly consistent with the approach that I've urged. What it says is we've got to be serious about reducing discretionary spending both in domestic spending and defense; we've got to be serious about tackling health care spending and entitlements in a serious way; and we've got to have some additional revenue so that we have an approach in which there is shared sacrifice and everybody is giving up something.
And so, for us to see Democratic senators acknowledge that we've got to deal with our long-term debt problems that arise out of our various entitlement programs, and for Republican senators to acknowledge that revenues will have to be part of a balanced package that makes sure that nobody is disproportionately hurt from us making progress on the debt and deficits I think is a very significant step. And as I said, the framework that they put forward is broadly consistent with what we've been working on here in the White House and with the presentations that I've made to the leadership when they've come over here.
So here's where we stand. We have a Democratic President and administration that is prepared to sign a tough package that includes both spending cuts, modifications to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare that would strengthen those systems and allow them to move forward, and would include a revenue component. We now have a bipartisan group of senators who agree with that balanced approach. And we’ve got the American people who agree with that balanced approach.