Transcript for President Obama News: 'We Are Not a Deadbeat Nation'
This is an ABC news special report. And a good morning to you I'm Diane Sawyer here with George Stephanopoulos we are joining you on the air because the president about to hold the final press conference -- his first term one week from today. Hundreds of thousands of people descending on Washington for his second inauguration 57. In the history of this country but he's already deep into the showdown on big issues. That's right looking and his next confrontation the congress over the debt limit that's like -- hit in about a month. Present will also take questions on gun control no question we're one month away from the sandy hook shooting ahead. Vice president Biden's report on his recommendations. To prevent gun gun violence that's coming tomorrow -- -- to. All right it will happen ABC's senior White House correspondent Jonathan Karl is there. At the White House and you're in the east room John right. That's right here in the east room and you can expect Diane that the president will lay down a very strong marker on that issue of the debt ceiling. The federal government will hit the limit of how much when he can borrow and about four -- five weeks the president says congress must raise that he will not negotiate on terms it is simply their responsibility. That puts the president squarely at odds with Republicans. Who say they able to -- spending cuts before raising that debt ceiling the president has basically taken in my way or the highway approach this he says that he will not engage in negotiations period it's simply congress' responsibility to act. He's also ruled that Diane any unilateral workarounds. To this negotiation with congress -- saying -- up to congress is John -- pointed out. Has an -- out of here we go again it certainly does -- -- so many times back in August 2011 again just before the end. This year the president and major confrontation with the congress over fiscal issues taxes spending. And get it could define his second term as well and you're looking at the door slightly ajar to the green room. Right next to the east room. And the president has been gathering that we noticed that he's postponed this press conference a couple of times this morning just a few delays wonder if they're still working on exactly what they're going to say when he washed out supposed to get around 1115 were almost a half hour after that not quite. President could also face questions about personnel. In the second term is facing a big fight. With the senate over his nominee for the Pentagon -- -- we saw Colin Powell come out strong defense. I'm Chuck Hill yesterday but a lot of Republican senators with questions he also has a big vacancy -- now. Diane that's as White House chief of staff now that he's appointed Jack -- his chief of staff to be Treasury Secretary in the second. All right -- all these -- issues you wonder if he's had a moment to stop consider himself first term. Ending you wonder if they'll be an element of reflection and today as the second one begins and what ever. The honeymoon is that you usually -- if your new president is as the -- honeymoon. He's been facing and -- -- the president. Please have cedar road good morning. I thought it might make sense to take some questions this week -- my first term comes to an end. It's been a busy and productive for years and I expect the same for the next four years. And -- to carry out the agenda that I campaigned -- An agenda for new jobs. New opportunity. And new security for the middle class. Now right now our economy is growing. And our businesses are creating new jobs so we are poised for a good year. If we make Smart decisions and sound investments. And as long as Washington politics don't get in the way of America's progress. As I serve on the campaign. One component to grow our economy and broadening opportunity for the middle class. Is shrinking our deficits. In a balance and responsible way. And for nearly two years now I've been fighting for such a plan. When that would reduce our deficits by four trillion dollars over the next decade which would stabilize our debt. Our deficit and sustainable way for the next -- That would be enough not only to stop the growth of our debt probe of the size of our economy but it would make it manageable. So doesn't crowd -- investments we need to. -- people and education and job training in science and medical research all the things that help us world. Step by step we've made progress towards that goal. Over the past -- years I've signed -- a law about one point four trillion dollars in spending cuts. Two weeks ago I signed into law more than 600 billion dollars in new revenue by making sure the wealthiest Americans begin to pay their fair share. When you add the money the will save an interest payments on the debt. Altogether that adds up to a total of about 2.5. Trillion dollars in -- -- reduction over the past two years. Not counting the 400 billion dollars already saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So we've made progress. We are moving towards. Our ultimate goal of getting to -- four trillion dollar reduction. And there will be more deficit reduction when congress decides what to do about the one point two trillion dollars in automatic spending cuts that. Have been pushed off until next -- The fact is though we can't finish the job of depths of reduction through spending cuts along. The cuts we've already made to priorities other -- Medicare Medicaid social security and defense. Mean that we spend. On everything from education to public safety. Less as a share of our economy. Than it has then has been true for generation. And that's not a recipe for growth. So we've got to do more -- to stabilize our finances over the medium and long term. But also spur more growth in the short term. I've said -- I'm open to making modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to protect them for future generations. I've also says that we need more revenue. Through tax reform by closing loopholes and our tax -- for the wealthiest Americans. If we combined a balanced package of savings from spending on health care and revenues from closing loopholes. We can solve the deficit issue. Without sacrificing. Our investments in things like education that are gonna help us grow. Turns out the American people agree with me. They listened to an entire year's debate over this issue. And they made a clear decision about the approach they prefer they don't think it's fair for example to ask a senior pay more for his or her health care. Or scientist to shut down life -- -- search so that a multimillionaire investor can pay less. In tax rates them a secretary. I don't think it's Smart to protect and -- corporate loopholes and tax breaks. For the wealthiest Americans rather than rebuild our roads -- schools invest in our workers' skills or help manufacturers. Bring jobs back to America. They want us to get our books in order in a balanced way where everybody pulls -- -- Everyone does their part. That's -- one as well that's what I've proposed. And we can get it done. But we're gonna have to make sure that people are looking at this any responsible way. Rather than just through the -- of politics. The other congressionally imposed deadline coming up as the so called -- Something most Americans. Hadn't even heard of before two years ago. So I want to be clear about this. The debt ceiling is not a question of authorizing more spent. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending it's simply allows the country to pay for spending. The congress has already committed took. These are bills that -- -- been racked up. And we need to pay -- So while I'm willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficits. America cannot afford another debate -- this congress about whether or not. They should pay the bills they've already racked up. -- congressional Republicans refused to pay America's bills on time. Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be -- We might not be able to pay our troops -- -- our contracts with small business office. Food inspectors air traffic controllers. Specialists who tracked down lose nuclear materials wouldn't get their paychecks. Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is in fact a safe -- Markets could go haywire interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money. Every homeowner with a mortgage every student with a college loan every small business owner who wants to grown higher. It would be. A self inflicted wound up on the economy. He would slowed on our growth might tip us into recession. And ironically it would probably increase our deficit. So to even entertain the idea of this happening of the United States of America -- paying its bills. Is irresponsible. It's absurd. As the speaker said two years ago it would be and I'm quoting speaker Boehner now. A financial disaster not only for us but for the worldwide -- -- So we got a -- belts. And Republicans in congress have two choices here they can act responsibly and pay America's bills. Where they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect -- Ransom in exchange for not pressuring the American economy. The financial well being of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not be bargaining chip. And they better choose quickly because time is running short. Last summer -- in congress even flirted with this idea are triple -- credit rating was downgraded for the first time in our history. Our business has created the fewest jobs of any month in nearly the past three years. And ironically the whole fiasco. Actually added to the depths. What should be surprising given all this talk with the American people think Washington is hurting rather than helping. The country at the moment. -- -- the representatives consumed with partisan brinksmanship over paying our bills. Well they overwhelmingly wants to focus on growing the economy and creating more jobs. Let's finish this debate. Let's give our businesses and the world the certainty that our economy in our reputation our stole second tonight. We pay our bills we handle our business. And then we can move off because -- -- to do. Got to create more jobs got a boost the wages of those who have work we've got to reach for energy independence we've got to reform our immigration system. We've got to give our children the best education possible and we've got to do everything we can't. To protect them from the horrors of gun violence. And let me say -- grateful to vice president Vice President Biden. For his work on that this. Issue of gun violence. And for his proposals which. I'm going to be reviewing today and I will addressed the next few days and I intend to vigorously pursue. -- -- that I'm going to take some questions. And I'm gonna start with Julie pace of -- This new important job. Gun violence today marks -- -- -- one month anniversary was in town which. Seem to generate some moments of world -- -- assault weapons ban. But there's been fresh opposition to that -- the -- and even Harry Reid has said that he questions whether -- passed congress. Given that how hard you push for assault weapons ban and if one cannot pass congress what other measures would need to be included. In a broad package in order -- -- gun violence successfully for a full. As I said the vice president and number remembers my cabinet. Went through -- very -- process over last month. Meeting with a lot of stakeholders in this including me -- aren't. Listen to proposals. From all quarters and they presented me now where. A list. Sensible common sense -- -- can be taken. To make sure that the kinds of violence we -- new -- doesn't -- -- I'm going to be meeting with the vice president today I expect to have. 88 Fuller presentation. Later in the week. To give people some specifics about what I think we need to do. My starting point is not to worry about the politics -- starting -- is to focus on what makes sense what works. What should we be doing to make sure that. Our children are -- that we're reducing the incidence of gun violence and I think we can do that -- a sensible way that. Comports with the Second Amendment. And then members of congress I think you're gonna have to have a debate and examine their own conscience. Because. It if in fact and I believe this is true everybody across party lines was is deeply moved. And and and saddened desire ones but what happened in Newtown. Then. You we're gonna have to vote. Based on what we think is best we're gonna have to come up where news. Answers said set politics aside and and that's what I expect. Congress to do but but out of what you can count on his is that the things that I've said in the past the belief that we have to have stronger background checks. That we can do -- much better job in terms of keeping. These magazine clips with high capacity. Out of the hands of folks who shouldn't have. An assault weapons -- has meaningful. That those are things I continue to believe. Makes sense who -- well well well what all of them. Get through this congress. I don't know but. What what's uppermost in my mind is making sure that -- honest with the American people. And -- members of congress about what I think will work. What I think it is is something that will make a difference and to repeat what I said earlier it if if there is -- step we can take that -- save even one child from. What happened in -- we should take that step. All. -- -- to be -- later in the week. -- -- NBC. As you know senate Democrats Harry Reid's actual letter -- you essentially. To take considers some sort of executive action. This -- issue New Year's that you're negotiating. Your administration has ruled out the various -- and after the fourteenth amendment just this morning. One of the house democratic leadership. Ask you to use the fourteenth amendment -- that sometimes that's what it takes you brought up -- major proclamation. As for executive action when congress would act. And he compared the debt ceiling to that so are you considering -- plan. And if not one. -- -- -- The issue here is whether or not. America pays its bills. We are not a deadbeat nation. And. So that there's a very simple solution -- this. Congress authorizes us. To. Pay our bills. Now if the house and the senate. Want to give me the authority so that they don't have to. Take these tough votes. If they want to put the responsibility on me they're raise -- debt -- on that would ticket. Mitch McConnell the Republican leader in the senate had a proposal like that last year. And I'm happy to except. But if they want to keep this responsibility than they need to go ahead and get it done. And -- -- of their Arn ol'. Magic tricks there are no loopholes there are no. You know easy outs. This is a matter of congress. Authorizes spent. There were army -- spent. They tell me. You need to. Fund our Defense Department at such and such a level. You need to send out Social Security checks. You need to make sure that you or paying to care for veterans. They lay all this up for -- and because they have the spending power and so I am. Required by -- To go ahead and pay these belts. Separately. They also have to authorize a -- debt -- in order to make sure that those bills are paid. And so what congress can do is. Tell me -- spend acts. And then say but we're not gonna give you the authority to go ahead and pay the bills. And I just want to repeat because I think. Sometimes the American people. Understandably aren't falling home all the debates here in Washington. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more. All it does is say. That America will pay its bills and we are not a deadbeat nation. And the consequences of us not paying our bills. As I outlined -- -- opening statement would be disastrous. So I understand the impulse to try to get around this in a simple way. But there's one way to get around -- there's one way to deal -- it and that is for congress. To authorize. Me. To pay for those. Items of spending that they authority. Authorized and -- field. That the notion -- Republicans -- in the house or maybe some Republicans in the senate. Would suggest that in order for us to get our way. On our spending priorities. That we would risk. The full faith and -- the United States. That I think is. Not what the founders intended that's not -- I think most Americans think our democracy should work. They've got a point of view. Democrats in congress may have point of view they need to sit down and and work out a compromise. And. Well look chuck there there are. There there's a pretty straightforward -- and that is to set the debt ceiling -- side. We pay our bills. And -- we have a vigorous debate about how we're gonna do further -- a reduction in a balanced way. I keep in mind that. You know what we've heard from some Republicans. In both the house the senate is that they rule only increase the debt ceiling. By the amount of spending cuts. That they're able to push -- And in order replace the automatic spending cuts the -- that's one point two trillion dollars. Say it takes another petroleum. Or petroleum to. To get us through one more year. -- after -- -- -- 2.5 trillion dollars in cuts just to get the debt ceiling extended to next year. 2.5 trillion they can't -- that congress has not been able to identify. One point two trillion dollars in cuts that they're happy with. Because these same Republicans say they don't want to cut defense. This claim that they don't want. Gut Medicare. Or harm the vulnerable but the truth of the matter is is that you can't. Meet their own criteria. Without. Drastically cutting Medicare. Or having an impact on Medicaid. Or affecting. Our defense spending so the math just doesn't add up. Now what Z here's what would work -- would work would be for us to say we've already done. Close to two trillion dollars. In deficit reduction and if you add the interest that we won't be paying because. Less spending and increased revenue. It adds up to about 2.5 trillion dollars. The consensus is we need about four trillion dollars to stabilize our debt -- Which means we need about one point five trillion dollars more. The package that I offered to speaker Boehner before we. Before the new year would achieve that. We're actually fairly close in terms of arriving at that number. So so if the goal is to make sure that we are being responsible about our debt -- deficit. If that's the conversation we're having I'm happy to have that conversation. And by closing. Some additional loopholes through tax reform. Which speaker Boehner has acknowledged. Can raise money and a sensible way and by doing some additional cuts including. Making sure that. We are reducing our health care spending which is the main driver of our deficits. We can arrival of factors -- gets this thing done I'm happy to have that conversation. What I will not do is to. Have that negotiation. With a gun at the head of the American people. The threat that unless we get our way. Unless you got Medicare or Medicaid. For. -- otherwise slash things that the American people. Don't believe should be slashed. That we're gonna threaten. Directly entire economy that is not how. Historically this has been done that's not -- we're gonna do -- this time. What what what I'm. -- what I'm saying to you is that there is no. Simpler solution. No ready credible solution. Other than congress either give me the authority to raise the debt ceiling. Four. Exercise the responsibility that they have kept for themselves and raised and that's because this is about paying your bills. Everybody here everybody here understands -- -- -- that this is not a complicated concert. You you don't go out to dinner. And. Then they'll eat all you want. And then leave without pay in the check in if you do. Your -- -- And congresses should. Think about the same way of American be able to you don't if if congress wants have a debate about maybe we shouldn't brought -- next -- -- we should go to a more modest restaurant. That's -- That bet that's a debate that we should -- but you don't you don't say in order for me to control. My appetites. I'm -- not pay the people who already provided services. People who -- to -- me the money. Though that's not that's not showing any discipline. -- that's doing is. Not meeting your obligations he can't do. And and then and and that's not a credible way to run this government week we've got to stop lurching. From crisis to crisis to crisis. When there's this clear path ahead of us. But simply require some discipline some responsibility in some compromise. That's where we need to go -- that's -- needs to work. Later. Thank you Mr. President. As you -- -- are finding -- the debt ceiling can sometimes be complicated himself as a member senate vote against -- debt ceiling increase. And it. In previous. Aspects of American history President Reagan in 1985 president George Walker Bush in 1990 President Clinton in 1997 all signed -- deficit reduction deals that were contingent upon or in the context of raising the debt ceiling. Yourself four times have done it three times those were related to deficit reduction -- budget. Maneuvers. What chuck and I think many people are curious about this new adamant desire on your part not to negotiate when that seems to conflict with the entire history. The modern Arab American presidents in the debt ceiling and your own history and -- debt ceiling. And doesn't that suggest -- we are gonna go into -- default situation because no one is talking to each other about how to resolve this. Well no measure -- I think if you look at the history. Getting votes for the -- who -- here is always difficult. And budgets in this town are always difficult. I want to there's -- last year. But what's different is we never saw situation as we saw last year. In which. Certain. Groups and congress. Took such an absolutist position. That we came within a few days of default. And he. The fact of the matter is is that we have never seen. The debt ceiling used in this fashion where the notion was you know what we might default unless we get a 100% of what we want. That hasn't happened. As I indicated before. I'm happy to have a conversation about how we reduce our deficits further any sensible way although one thing I want to point out is that the American people are also concerned. About how we grow -- our economy. How we put people back to work. How we make sure that we finance. Our workers getting properly trained and our schools. Are giving our kids the education we deserve there's a whole broke the gender which will reduce our deficits. That's important as well. What you've never seen. He is the notion. That has been presented so far at least by. The Republicans that deficit reduction will only count spending cuts. That we will raise the deficit or the debt ceiling dollar for dollar. On spending cuts. They're -- set of rules that have been established. That. Are impossible. To meet without doing severe damage to the economy and so we're not -- -- do is put ourselves in the position. Where in order to pay for spending that we party and -- That are two options are were either going to. Profoundly hurt the economy and hurt. Middle class families and hurt seniors and her kids who were trying to go to college. Or alternatively we're gonna blow up the economy we're not gonna do that. If -- -- whatever congress have been they're gonna December something that sensible and we shouldn't be doing this. Let them we should and we shouldn't be doing this on a one to three month -- -- why would we do that. The United States of America major. -- what we we can't manage our affairs in such a way that. We pay our bills and we provide some -- in terms how repair bills. Look. I don't think anybody -- consider my position on reasonable. The I have yet. That they. One. They measured the I am happy to have a conversation. About how we reduce our deficits. I'm not going to have a monthly or every three months. Conversation. About whether or not we pay our bills. Because that in of itself does severe damage even the threat of default. Hurts our economy it's hurting our economy as we speak. We should be having that debate if we want to have a conversation about how to reduce our deficit let's have that. We've been having that for the last two years -- had just had an entire campaign. About it and by the way the American people agreed with me that we should reduce our deficits -- a balanced way that also -- -- account the need for us to grow. This economy and put people back to work. And despite that conversation. And despite the election results. The position. That's been taken on the part of some house Republicans is that -- hope we gotta do it our way. And if we don't. We simply won't pay America's bills well. That that can't be. -- can be of a position that is sustainable over time. It's not one that's good for the economy now it's certainly not going to be the kind of precedent that I want -- -- not just from my presidency but for future presence. Even if it was. On the other side. -- Democrats don't like. Vote for the debt ceiling when Republicans. President and yet you. You buy it but you never saw the situation in which Democrats suggesting somehow that we would go ahead and default if we didn't get a 100% of our way. That's just not -- post war. President. You can't get -- out difficult be some day -- hope to get any gun control measure passed through this congress. What are you willing or able to do using the powers of -- presidency. To act without congress and and I'd also like to know. What do you make of these long lines mercy gun shows on stores all around the country I mean -- in Medicaid applications. For concert -- since the shooting in the. Well. My understanding as a vice president spirit provide a range of steps that we can take to reduce gun violence. Some of them work -- legislation some of them. I can accomplish through executive action and so all be reviewing those today in his arsenal I'll speak. In more detail to what we're going had proposed. Later in the week. But I'm confident that there are some steps that we can take. That don't require legislation. And that there -- within my authority as president and where you get a step that. Has the opportunity to reduce the the possibility gun violence. That I -- -- take it. Well -- I think for example how we. Are gathering data for example on. Guns the fall into the hands of criminals. And how we track that more effectively there may be some steps that we can take administratively. As -- through legislation. -- as far as people winding up -- and purchasing more guns. You know I think that we've seen. For some time now that. Us. And those who oppose. Any common sense. Gun control or gun safety measures. Have. Pretty effective way of -- up. Fear. On the part of gun owners that somehow. The federal government's. About. Take all your guns away. And know that there's probably an economic element of that. It -- is good for business. But I think that. Those of us who. Look at this problem have repeatedly said that. Responsible gun owners. People who. Have a gun for protection for hunting for sportsmanship. They don't have anything to worry about the issue here is not. Whether or not. We believe in the Second Amendment the issue is are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that. Somebody. Like. The individual Newtown can't walk into a school. And gunned down a bunch of children. In in shockingly. Rapid fashion. And surely we can do something about that. And but -- but but part of the challenge that we're here we confront is that. Even. The site -- slightest hint of some sensible. Responsible. -- legislation in this area. Fans this notion that somehow. Here -- comes and that Airbus guns are going to be taken away. And it's unfortunate but. That's the case in. If you look at over the first four years my administration we've tried to tighten up and enforceable laws of worry -- books. But. It be pretty hard to argue. That somehow gun owners of had there rights infringed. The hospital -- he. Years. Caldwell. As I said -- I think it's a fear that spanned. By. Those who. Are. Are worried about. The possibility of any legislation to -- -- -- To the debt ceiling because in the summer of 2011 you said that you wouldn't negotiate on the debt ceiling. And you did last year you said that you wouldn't extend any of the bush tax cuts for the wealthy. And you did so as -- -- now that you're not going to negotiate on the debt ceiling. This year why should house Republicans take that seriously and think that if we get to one minute to midnight scenario. You're not gonna back down. Well first -- -- doing. Let's take the example of this year in the fiscal. I didn't say that I would not have any conversations at all about. Extending the bush tax cuts what I said was we weren't gonna extend bush tax cuts for the wealthy. And we -- now you can argue. That during the campaign I said. I set the criteria for. Wealthiest 250 and we ended up being at 400. But the fact of the matter is millionaires billionaires. Are paying significantly more in taxes just as I said so. For from. From the star. My concern was making sure that we have a tax code that was fair and the -- the middle class and my biggest burger was making sure the middle class taxes did not go up. -- The difference between this year and 2011. Is the fact -- -- and made one point. Two trillion dollars in cuts. And -- At the time I indicated that there -- cuts that we could sensibly make that would not damage our economy. Would not impede growth I said at the time I think we should paired up with revenue in order to have an overall balanced package. But my own budget reflected cuts. In discretionary spending my own budget reflected the cuts that needed to be -- And -- made those cuts now the challenge going forward is. That. We know. Made some big cuts. And if we're gonna do further deficit reduction. The only way to do it is and a balanced and responsible way. The alternative. Is for us to go ahead and cut. Commitments that we've made on things like Medicare. Or Social Security. Or Medicaid. And for us to. Fundamentally change. Commitments that we've made to make sure the seniors don't -- out of poverty. Or that children -- were disabled for properly care for. -- To change that contract we've made with the American people. Rather than look at options like closing loopholes for. Corporations. That. They don't need. That. Points to a long term trend in which. You know we have. -- fundamentally I think on her mind what people expect. Out of this government which is that. Parties sit down they negotiated a compromise but they also reflect. The world the American people that you don't have one Merrill faction. -- able is able to simply dictate. A 100% of what they want all the time or otherwise threaten that we destroy the American economy. Another way of putting it is we got a break to have. Negotiating through crisis over and over again. And now we now's as good of the time -- -- that the started my second term because if we. Continue down this -- Then there's really no stopping the prince. I mean literally he's even -- divided government even where we've got a democratic president. And democratic senate that a small group. In the House of Representatives. Put simply say. You know every two months every three months every six months every year. We are -- up. More and more change the economy. In ways that we prefer despite strong objections of Americans all across the country or otherwise we're gonna have America not pay its bills. And that is no way for us to do business and by the way I wouldn't make the same argument if it was a Republican. President any Republican senate. You have -- a handful of Democrats who were suggesting that we are going -- Hijack the process and make sure that either we get our way -- percent of the time or. Otherwise. We are going to default. On America's obligations. Don't know look look what I've said is that I'm happy to have a conversation about deficit reduction. -- Judy Jewell have a look at that this is pretty straight forward. Either congress -- bills or does. Now if and and they want to keep this responsibility. If John Boehner and Mitch McConnell think that they can. Come up. We news a plan -- that somehow. Meets their work criteria that they've set for why they won't. When they won't raise the -- certainly. There are free to go ahead and try. But. The proposals that they put forward. In order accomplish that only by -- cutting spending. Means cuts -- things like Medicare. And education that the American people profoundly reject. -- they think that they can get. That through congress. Men. They're free to try. But I think that a better way of doing this is two. Go ahead and say we're gonna pay our bills. The question now is how we actually get our deficit in a manageable sustainable way and that's a conversation. I'm happy to head. All right. -- -- -- -- You've spoken extensively about the debt ceiling debate but -- Republicans have further said that they're willing to allow a government shutdown to take place. Rather than put off keep spending cuts are you prepared to allow the government to grind to a halt. If you disagree with the spending cut proposals they put forth and who do you think of the American people blame that came to pass. Well. Ultimately congress makes the decisions about whether or not we spend money and whether or not we Cuba's government -- And if the Republicans in congress. Have made the decision that they want to shut down the government in order to get their way. Then. They have to -- -- at least my house represented is probably to do it. I think that would be a mistake. -- may be profoundly damaging to our economy. I think would actually add toward deficit because it will impede growth. -- a short sighted. But there -- elected representatives and and folks. Put them in those in the those positions and they're gonna have to make a decision about. And I don't I suspect the American people blame all of Washington for not being able to get -- ago. But from the larger issue here has to do with what what is -- that we're trying to accomplish. We're trying to reduce the deficit because we're trying to reduce the deficit. Then. We can. Shape -- bipartisan plan to reduce -- -- America is that really our objective our concern is that were. -- -- more than we take him and if that's the case then there -- a way of balancing -- outs of that. We take in more money. Increasing revenue. And we reduce spending. And and there is a recipe for getting that done. And in the conversation that I was speaker mayor before the end of year we came pretty close program. Few hundred billion dollars separating us. When stretched Federer tenure -- that's -- law. But it seems is if what's motivating and propelling at this point some of the house Republicans is more than simply deficit reduction. They have a particular vision about what government should and should not -- So they are suspicious about government's commitments for example. To make sure that seniors have decent health -- as they get old. They have suspicions about. Social secure. -- suspicions about. Whether government should make sure that. Kids in poverty. Are getting enough to eat for. Whether we should be spending money on medical research so they've they've got a particular view of what. Government should do and and should be and -- That view was rejected by the American people. When it was debated during the presidential campaign. Having every poll that's out there indicates that the American people actually think our commitment. To Medicare. Sports education is really important. And that's something that we should look at as a last resort in terms of reducing the deficit and it makes a lot more sense for us to close for example corporate loopholes. Before we go to. Putting a bigger burden on students wore seniors. But if the house Republicans disagree -- that and they want to shut down the government to see if they can. Get their way -- -- that's their that's their prerogative that's on the system -- It will damage our economy. Never -- the government is a big part of this economy. And it's interesting that a lot of times you have people who recognize that when it comes to defense spending. Some of the same folks who say -- Cut spending -- complain that no government jobs don't do anything. When it comes to that defense contractor in their desperate. They think wow this is pretty important part of the economy in my district. We shouldn't stop spending on that. Let's just make sure we're not spending on. Those other -- -- -- look my hope is that the common sense prevails. That's always my. My preference and I think that would be the -- the American people Mets would be good for the top. So so let me just. -- -- repeat. If the issue is deficit reduction. Getting our deficits sustainable. Over time getting our debt in a sustainable place then. Democrats and a Republican congress will have a partner with me. We can achieve that and -- we can achieve fairly quickly -- we know what the numbers are we know what needs to be done. We know what a balanced approach would take we've already done probably more than half of the deficit reduction we need to stabilize the debt the deficit. -- -- in more pain. And drama. In getting there -- we needed. And so finishing the -- shouldn't should be that of if everybody comes of the the conversation with an open mind and if we recognize that there's some things. Like not paying our bills that that should be out of bounds. -- Ameritech one last question -- office. I'd like to ask you now that you've reached the end a year first term starting your second. About a couple of criticisms. One -- long standing -- -- more recent. The longstanding -- seems to have become a truism of sorts that your you and your staff are too insular that you don't socialize and have. And the second the more recent criticism is that your team taking shape. Isn't diverse isn't as diverse as it could be or even lives. In terms of getting additional voices gender race ethnic diversity -- like you address both of those. Trip. Military the second 11. -- I'm very proud that in the first four years. We had as diverse if not more diverse a White House in the cabinet than any in history. And I intend to continue that. Because. It turns out that when -- looked for the very best people. Given the incredible diversity of this country. You're gonna end up with a diverse staff and a -- a -- team and at that very diversity. Helps. Create. More effective policy making and better decision making. For me because it brings different perspectives to the table. So if you think about my first four years. The person who -- have the most influence on my foreign policy. Was -- -- The people who were in charge of moving forward. My most important domestic -- health care. -- what. The person in charge of our Homeland Security. Was -- My two appointments to the Supreme Court. -- one and 50% of -- White House staff were women. So I think people should expect that. That record will be built upon. During the next four years -- What I've made four point and so far. And one woman admittedly a high profile one. Is leaving the administrators has already left administration and I've. Have made replacement but I would just suggest that her body. Kind of wait until they've seen. All my appointments who's in the White House staff and whose. In my cabinet before they rush to judgment. But but I I guess -- executives is that I think. Until you've seen. What my overall team looks like. It's premature. Assume that somehow we're going backwards are going backwards wrongful. Would respect to. That this truism about me not socializing and from -- folks on the back. All that stuff. The most people who know me. -- on them pretty friendly guy. And I like a good part of. And -- know the truth is that. You know what I was in the senate. I had great relationships over there and up until the point that I became president. This was not an accusation that you heard very -- I think that I think that really what's. Gone on in terms. Some of the paralysis here in Washington or difficulties in negotiations. Just have to do with. Some very stark differences in terms of policy. Some very sharp differences in terms of where we stand on issues and you know if you think about. What saved myself and speaker Boehner. I like speaker -- personal. And when we went -- and play golf we had a great time but that didn't get a deal done and 2011. You know what -- what I'm over here at the congressional picnic and folks are coming up and taking pictures with the family. I promise Michelle my overnight storm and we have a wonderful time. But it doesn't. Prevent them you're gone -- to the floor of the house. You know blasting me for being. Big spending socialist. Your view and then there and the reason that. You know. In in many cases congress votes the way they do war. Talks the -- -- talker takes positions in negotiations -- that they take doesn't have to do with me it has to do with. The imperatives that they feel terms their own politics. -- they're worried about their district they're worried about. What's going home back home I think there -- a lot of Republicans at this point that feel that. Given how much energy. Has been devoted in. Some of media -- preferred buyer Republican constituencies to. Demonize me that it doesn't look -- -- socialized with. Charlie Crist. Down Florida -- think testifies to that and I think a lot of folks say. Well. -- if we look like we're being too corporate -- too chummy with the president that might cause us problems. Have might be an excuse for us to get a challenge from. Somebody in -- primer. So it's of that tends to be. That the challenge -- promise. We invite folks from congress over here all the time and I -- when they choose to come. I enjoy their company. Sometimes they don't choose to come and that has to do with the fact that. I think they they don't consider the optics useful for them politically. And and ultimately the way we're going to get stuff done personal relationships are important. And obviously I can always do a better job and the nice thing is that now the my girls are getting older they don't want to spend that much time would -- anyway. So I'll -- probably. Call around looking for some later. Like -- -- -- -- something. Of them -- cattle only in this big house. Maybe he's just. -- -- may be a whole bunch of members there House Republican Caucus one. Come -- socialize more. But my suspicion is getting the issues -- -- we just talked about the big stuff. Whether or -- we get. Sensible. Laws passed prevent gun violence whether. Americas paying its bills whether or not. We get immigration reform about. All that's going to be determined largely by. Where -- the respective parties stand on policy and maybe most importantly. They had to the American people. At the American people. Feel strongly about these issues and they push hard and they reward. Or don't reward members of congress. With their votes. If if if they reject. -- uncompromising positions -- sharp partisanship are always looking out for the next election and they reward folks who. Are trying to find common ground and I think you'll see behavior in congress change. And that'll be true whether on the life of the party here a stick a month. Thank you very much -- but it. And there you have the the president say he -- this press conference talking about socializing. -- saying that maybe he will socialize more members of congress and -- girls don't wanna be with him that much anyway but. His opening statement was about the debt ceiling saying we are not a deadbeat nation we've got to stop lurching from crisis to crisis. All but one of the questions -- -- the debt ceiling -- -- gonna control the president clearly had a message to get out there he is not gonna move. On the -- -- is up to congress to pass it he says the only issue -- -- are -- gonna pay the bills. We have already racked up on gun control is interest he said the Vice President Biden has already given him write his recommendations a mix of legislative recommendations. And executive actions the president signaling though that he knows how tough -- fight this is going to be says will they all get through. I don't know that includes background checks on gun shows you saw what -- -- and some kind of change -- gun magazine. It's an announcing at all -- a couple of days and our Jonathan Karl is going to be joining us tonight on world news he will have all of the news from this press conference. As well as the news of the day from the White House and we'll have complete wrap up of what happened around the world on world news. We're always working for you at abcnews.com for George for -- according to -- This has been a special. NBC --
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.