Obama Says Congress Should Be Willing to Raise Revenue to Reduce Deficit
President Barack Obama said Republican lawmakers should agree to raising revenue in any deficit-cutting deal, noting he has agreed to consider cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare.
“I’m willing to do what it takes to solve this problem, even if it’s not politically popular,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “I expect leaders in Congress to show that same willingness to compromise.”
Obama said revenue increases should accompany cuts to domestic programs, defense spending and changes to entitlement programs in a deal to increase the government’s $14.3 trillion debt limit. The administration has said the nation’s ability to pay all of its bills will run out Aug. 2 without an increase in the debt ceiling.
Obama has been trying to break an impasse over whether to include cuts in entitlement programs and tax increases in the deal. He has proposed revenue increases by closing tax loopholes for oil and gas companies and ending some deductions for the wealthiest Americans.
In his weekly address, Obama said politicians have reached bipartisan deficit-cutting agreements before. He cited deals forged between former Republican President Ronald Reagan and then-House Speaker Tip O’Neill, a Massachusetts Democrat, and between former Democratic President Bill Clinton and then- Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a Georgia Republican.
“Nobody ever got everything they wanted. But they worked together,” Obama said.
Time is running out as talks carry into another week, with House Republicans planning to vote July 19 on legislation to limit spending and tie a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling to a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. The plan stands little chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
While daily talks that Obama has held with congressional leaders are on hold, House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, huddled privately at the Capitol yesterday with White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in search of a compromise, according to officials in both parties who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“You can’t solve our deficit without cutting spending,” Obama said in his radio address. “You also can’t solve it without asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share -- or without taking on loopholes that give special interests and big corporations tax breaks that middle-class Americans don’t get.”
As for a constitutional amendment on a balanced budget, the measure would require two-thirds approval in the House and Senate, and then ratification by three-fourths of the 50 states. It would eventually cap spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product.
At a news conferences yesterday, Obama said “we don’t need a constitutional amendment” to balance the budget. “If we’re going to ask seniors, or students, or middle-class Americans to sacrifice, then we have to ask corporations and the wealthiest Americans to share in that sacrifice.”
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said in the Republicans’ weekly address that all 47 senators in his party support the balanced- budget amendment he is co-sponsoring. Hatch said the proposal is the “only long-term solution” to the nation’s rising debt.
“A balanced budget amendment is essential for our economy, and our debt is definitely a constitutional issue,” he said. “The only reason this administration doesn’t want a constitutional amendment is because they want to keep spending the American people’s money.”
Hatch said the president “refuses to reform our near bankrupt entitlement programs -- all while pushing job-killing tax hikes. The solution to a spending crisis is not tax increases.”
Hatch said the nation wouldn’t be facing a debt crisis if a balanced budget amendment that he proposed in 1997 had been passed.
“We haven’t seen spending levels this high since World War II,” Hatch said.
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