WHITE HOUSE — President Barack Obama has renewed his call for Republicans to work with him to achieve a large deficit reduction package, but says any deal must be balanced.
Obama used remarks to a policy conference of congressional Democrats to renew his offer to Republicans for what he insists must be a balanced approach to deal with deficit and other fiscal woes.
Saying the country experienced faster economic growth when all Americans are given a fair shot and play by the same rules, the president held out his hand to Republicans to negotiate with him on what has been called a grand bargain.
"I am prepared, eager and anxious to do a big deal, a big package that ends this governance by crisis where every two weeks, or every two months, or every six months we are threatening this hard-won recovery," said Obama.
Referring to mandatory government spending cuts, called a sequester, that could slow or reverse recovery, he said he is prepared to debate with Republicans who he said insist on cutting important programs.
"If that is an argument they want to have before the court of public opinion, that is an argument I am more than willing to engage in, because I believe the American people understand that, yes, we need to reduce the deficit but it shouldn't just be on the backs of seniors, it shouldn't just be on the backs of young people trying to get an education, it should not just be on the backs of parents who are trying to give their kids a better start in life, that all of us have to participate," he said.
Under a deficit and debt agreement in 2011, the president and Republicans agreed on $1.2 trillion in cuts to domestic and defense programs over 10 years. About $110 billion in cuts would occur this year.
Republicans also favor replacing the sequester with another plan, but disagree with Obama's overall fiscal and tax policies.
This week, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican Representative John Boehner, responded negatively to Obama's call for Congress to come up with an alternative to delay automatic spending cuts.
"Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes. The president's sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balance the budget over the next 10 years," said Boehner.
Obama underscored his determination to achieve immigration reform and new gun control legislation. He and Vice President Joe Biden will travel across the country in coming weeks to build public support for those efforts.
Meanwhile, the White House confirmed this week the president's plan to hold 14 fundraising events this year for House and Senate Democratic congressional campaign committees.
Democrats currently hold a narrow majority in the U.S. Senate, with Republicans controlling the House of Representatives. Democrats would like to change that balance of power, but face big hurdles, especially in re-gaining control of the House.