Obama: ‘This May Bring My Presidency Down, but I Will Not Yield’ on No Short-Term Extensions

By MichaelJames

Jul 13, 2011 8:23pm

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Ann Compton report:

It was, sources from both parties say, the most tense of the deficit reduction meetings yet.

After a period of what was described as constructive discussions, President Obama embraced $1.7 trillion in cuts as a “foundation.”

But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said, “Wherever we are, it’s a long way from the $2.4 trillion needed to meet House GOP goals of dollar for dollar.”

So Cantor suggested a possible short-term extension in order to avoid default, with another vote next year.

The president — frustrated — said there would be no short term extensions. It would be bad for the economy, and resolving the deficit issue certainly won’t be easier next year in the throes of the political season, he said.

If we can’t do this now, we won’t be able to do it next year, he said.

“This process is confirming what the American people think is the worst about Washington,” the president said. “Everyone is more interested in posturing, political position and protecting their base than in solving problems.”

He said we can get a lot of savings “if the spirit changes from why we can’t do things to why we can.

“I have shown enormous willingness to compromise and have taken huge heat for it,” he said, “but my responsibility is to the American people and there comes a point when I need to say, ‘Enough.’”

“It cannot all be on us,” the president said, arguing that Republicans need to give on the revenue side of things as Democrats are willing to do so on spending cuts.

“Don’t call my bluff,” the president said. “I am not afraid to veto and I will take it to the American people.”

If Moody’s, the credit rating agency that announced a review of U.S. credit, downgrades the United States, President Obama said, ”it will be a tax increase on every American.”

There needs to be a long-term debt extension, the president argued.

“This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this,” he said.

Then he stood up.

“Enough is enough,” the president insisted. “We have to be willing to compromise. It shouldn’t be about positioning and politics, and I’ll see you all tomorrow.”

Then he left the room.

The group is to recovene Thursday at 4:15 p.m. at the White House and continue debate on cuts in health care spending and revenues that the president still considers necessary if the negotiations are to reach the Republicans’ demand for $2.4 trillion in savings to match the increase in governement borrowing power.

President Obama also told the leaders that by Friday they need to decide where they are heading in the talks — whether a deal is possible or whether they must turn their attention to avoiding a default. 

The meeting began with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner explaining the impact of the decision by  Moody’s, the credit rating agency that will review a possible “downgrading” of the United States’ creditworthiness.

-Jake Tapper and Ann Compton

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