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Obama: Lawmakers Need to Do Right Thing on Debt

U.S. President Barack Obama looks up during a meeting with Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room to discuss ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction at the White House, July 11, 2011
U.S. President Barack Obama looks up during a meeting with Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room to discuss ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction at the White House, July 11, 2011

President Barack Obama says congressional leaders from both political parties need to do the right thing and work with him to achieve the largest possible compromise to cut deficit spending and raise the national debt limit. Mr. Obama used a news conference to step up pressure on lawmakers before another White House negotiating session.

Saying he will meet with key congressional leaders every single day until the deficit and debt issue is resolved, President Barack Obama said all continue to believe that it would be unacceptable not to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, adding that a lot of work remains.

Related report by Laurel Bowman:

Mr. Obama used the news conference to send this message to Republicans.

"I have been hearing from my Republican friends for quite some time that it is a moral imperative for us to tackle our debts and deficits in a serious ways," said the president. "I have been hearing from them that this is one of the things that is creating uncertainty and holding back investment on the part of the business community. And so, what I said to them is let's go."

He also acknowledged the opposition from his Democratic party to considering or including any radical changes to so-called "entitlement" programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

"I am prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done, and I expect the other side should be willing to do the same thing, if they mean what they say, that this is important," said Obama.

The president confirmed he and Republican House Speaker John Boehner had been aiming for the biggest possible package that would have resolved the debt and deficit challenge for a longer time. But Boehner gave up on efforts to achieve the bigger deal involving as much as $4 trillion in combined spending cuts and revenue raisers.   

On Capitol Hill before he left for more talks at the White House, Boehner indicated that what he called the "gulf" on the debt and deficit issues remains wide.

"The president continues to insist on raising taxes and they are just now serious enough about fundamental entitlement reform to solve the problem for the near and intermediate future," said Boehner.

Boehner said he agrees with the president that the United States can not be allowed to default on its debt. But he noted that Congress must approve any bill to prevent a default, and he said current proposals would not pass the House.

Mr. Obama made clear he will continue to push for the largest possible deal, saying it could result in manageable deficits and stabilized debt levels that would benefit the economy.   

"The things that I will not consider are a 30 day, or a 60 day, or a 90 day, or a 180 day temporary stop gap resolution to this problem," the president said. "This is the United States of America, and we do not manage our affairs in three month increments. We do not risk U.S. default on our obligations because we can't put politics aside."

Mr. Obama said the job of fixing the fiscal mess would only get harder in six months when campaigning picks up for the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. He said compromise will be required on all sides.

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