Obama Pleads His Case For ‘Big’ Debt Deal at Town Hall

Jul 22, 2011 12:57pm

ABC News’ Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) reports:

With the clock ticking toward default, President Obama continued his push to convince Congress and the American people that a “big deal” to reduce the deficit is the best option for the nation’s economy, saying today that it will require “shared sacrifice” from both Republicans and Democrats.

Speaking to students, parents and teachers at the University of Maryland, the president stressed the need for a “balanced” deal that includes spending cuts and revenue increases, a deal that he said will “make everybody somewhat unhappy.”

The president said that he’s “willing to sign a plan that includes tough choices I would not normally make” and that he believes people in both parties are willing to do the same. “The only people we have left to convince are some folks in the House of Representatives.  We're going to keep on working on that because I still believe we can do what you sent us here to do,” Obama said.

“This idea of balance, this idea of shared sacrifice, of a deficit plan that includes tough spending cuts but also includes tax reform that raises more revenue, this isn't just my position, this isn't just the Democratic position, this isn't some wild-eyed Socialist position.  This is a position that's being taken by people of both parties and no party,” he added.

Today’s event comes one day after news broke that the president and House Speaker John Boehner are attempting to revive a far-reaching deal to reduce the deficit through immediate spending cuts paired with entitlement and tax reforms further down the road.

Facing a revolt from members of his own party outraged at the possibility that the White House would accept a deal that does not include immediate tax increases, today Obama admitted that some of his proposals are not sitting well with his fellow Democrats.

“There are cuts that some people in my own party aren't too happy about, and frankly, I wouldn't make them if money wasn't so tight,” he said.

With the August 2 deadline to default rapidly approaching, Obama was adamant that not raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling is not an option.

“The one thing we can't do — cannot do — is decide that we are not going to pay the bill that previous Congresses have already racked up,” he said. “The United States of America doesn't run out without paying the tab.  We pay our bills.”

“This is a rare opportunity for both parties to come together and choose a path where we stop putting so much debt on our credit card, we start paying it down a little bit. And that's what we've been trying to do,” Obama said.

It appears the seemingly never-ending negotiations are starting to get to the president. “Don't get me wrong… there's nothing I enjoy more than sitting hour after hour, day after day debating the fine points of the federal budget with members of Congress,” Obama said chuckling. “But after a while, you do start feeling a little cooped up.”

Perhaps road-testing a new campaign slogan, Obama concluded the roughly hour-long event saying “I don't want you to ever get discouraged… we're going to get through these tough times” (cue Brooks and Dunn “Only in America”).

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