ABC News’ Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) reports:
Speaking out against the “partisan three-ring circus” in Washington, tonight President Obama made an urgent plea to lawmakers to compromise on the budget stalemate and pass a “balanced approach” to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit.
After weeks of negotiations — and with just days left until the Aug. 2 deadline to default — the standstill continues over competing plans put forth by the Republican House and Democratic Senate.
Americans are “fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word,” the president said in a primetime address to the nation. “The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.”
The president clearly targeted the House Republican approach, which would raise the debt ceiling by roughly $1 trillion and extend the limit through 2012, saying it “doesn’t solve the problem.” In particular, Obama singled out the GOP freshmen, admitting “a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues.”
“There’s no point in putting the economy at risk by kicking the can further down the road,” Obama said of the plan put forth by Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Furthermore, Obama said the short-term solution might not be enough to avoid a credit downgrade and “the higher interest rates that all Americans would have to pay as a result.”
Instead, the president favors the Senate plan put up by Majority Leader Harry Reid, which would increase the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion through Spring 2013.
“I think that’s a much better path, although serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform,” Obama said.
Both plans would include domestic spending cuts of roughly $1.2 trillion.
With the clock ticking toward what he called a “reckless and irresponsible” default, the president said he has told both leaders to come up with a “fair compromise” in the coming days that can pass both houses of Congress.
However, Obama did not outline what that compromise might be.
The president urged Americans to “make your voice heard” and let members of Congress know if they want a balanced plan to reducing the deficit.
“If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message,” he said.