Obama Says It’s Time To ‘Eat Our Peas’ and Reach a Deal on the Deficit

Jul 11, 2011 1:36pm

ABC News’ Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) reports:

President Obama continued his push for a larger deficit-reduction deal today and warned that an agreement would be impossible if Republicans remain unwilling to compromise.

“I do not see a path to a deal if they don't budge, period. I mean, if the basic proposition is, it's my way or the highway, then we're probably not going to get something done because we've got divided government,” Obama told reporters at a White House news conference today.

With the August 2 deadline to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling looming, Obama upped the stakes and said he would not sign a short-term extension. “Now is the time to deal with these issues. If not now, when?” he asked.

“I will not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90- day extension. That is just not an acceptable approach,” he said. “If we think it's hard now, imagine how these guys are going to be thinking six months from now in the middle of election season, when they're all up.  It's not going to get easier, it's going to get harder. So we might as well do it now; pull off the Band-Aid, eat our peas.”

“We are going to get this done by August 2,” he added.

Obama continued to make his case for a “grand bargain” that would cut roughly $4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade through spending cuts and revenue increases. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, is pushing for a smaller measure based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations that is roughly $2 trillion in savings without any tax increases.

“I've been hearing from my Republican friends for quite some time that it is a moral imperative for us to tackle our debt and our deficits in a serious way. I've been hearing from them that this is one of the things that's creating uncertainty and holding back investment on the part of the business community,” Obama said.”So what I've said to them is, let's go.” 

“I have bent over backwards to work with the Republicans,” Obama said before offering high praise for Speaker Boehner, saying “I think he's a good man who wants to do right by the country.”

Obama urged each party to take on their “sacred cows” and said he is prepared to “take on significant heat from my party to get something done” and that he expects the other side to be willing to do the same.

“I continue to push congressional leaders for the largest possible deal. And there's going to be resistance. There is, frankly, resistance on my side to do anything on entitlements. There is strong resistance on the Republican side to do anything on revenues. But if each side takes a maximalist position, if each side wants 100 percent of what its, you know, ideological predispositions are, then we can't get anything done,” he said.

When it comes to increasing revenue, the President stressed that he does not want to increase taxes now, but rather end a series of loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and oil and gas companies. “I want to be crystal clear,” he said. “Nobody has talked about increasing taxes now; nobody has talked about… increasing taxes next year. What we have talked about is that starting in 2013, that we have gotten rid of some of these egregious loopholes that are benefiting corporate jet owners or oil companies at a time where they're making billions of dollars of profits.”

With the clock ticking to stave off a potentially catastrophic default on U.S. obligations, Obama cautioned that a failure to raise the debt ceiling could lead to another recession and throw millions of Americans out of work. “The professional politicians know better. And for them to say that we shouldn't be raising the debt ceiling is irresponsible… You know, this is not something that, you know, I am making up,” Obama said.

The negotiations will continue this afternoon when congressional leaders come to the White House for yet another meeting with the president and vice president. Obama said today that the meetings will continue every day until a deal is reached.

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