Gov. Christie on the "Grand Bargain" on Deficit Reduction - "The President Didn't Lead"

We sat down in Trenton with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for a profile to air on Nightline tonight.

Here's one exchange we had about President Obama and deficit reduction that I thought you might find interesting.

TAPPER: One of the things that the- that's coming down the pike is after the election, there's this thing called Taxmageddon, which I'm sure you're following.


TAPPER: Four trillion dollars in Bush tax cuts are said to expire. Then there are also these - spending cuts in domestic programs in the Pentagon budget, because Congress, through the Super Committee, was not able to come up with them… I think Jimmy Kimmel said, the Super Committee is to committees as Supercuts is to cuts. But I think - well, one of the problems that President Obama has talked about is the fact that he has been willing to compromise and talk about spending talks -


TAPPER: You don't buy it.

CHRISTIE: No! No, he never put out a plan. He never put out a plan, never, not once! He talked about - he was talking about a grand bargain behind closed doors.

TAPPER: He and John Boehner - he and Speaker Boehner were working -

CHRISTIE: Yeah, but then he never put out - he never put out publicly what he was willing to do. I mean, the fact of the matter is the way you led is you lay down the marker in the sand. You say, here's what I'm willing to do. Come meet me in the center of the room. The President never did that. The President didn't lead. The President asked for Simpson-Bowles and he put it on the shelf for political reasons. This President has no credibillty on this issue, none! So I don't listen to anytihng that he has to say about this, until he's willing to really do something significant. and for three and a half years he hasn't been willing to do it.

TAPPER: Let's just posit that you're right about that for a second, for discussion's sake. The truth of the matter is in addition to whatever your take is on his leadership, you have House Republicans who are not willing to agree to one penny in any tax increase.

CHRISTIE: But that's not true. John Boehner was willing - John Boehner said publicly -

TAPPER: Boehner was willing to - I don;'t know that he could have - I don't know that he had the votes for it.

CHRISTIE: Well guess what? We never found out because the President wasn't willing to uphold his - his end of the bargain. I mean, listen - it takes two to tango, Jake. And, and - and John Boehner showed his willingness to do it, and the President walked away. He kept moving the goal post on Boehner. And the fact is the President didn't want to do it.

TAPPER: You don't think he wanted to.


TAPPER: Because it would hurt him with Democrats?

CHRISTIE: That's exactly right.

TAPPER: But this is a Congress that you saw what they did with the debt ceiling. I mean, this is a Congress that at times does not appear willing to listen to reason.

CHRISTIE: Well, and this seems like a President who at times is not willing to listen to reason. Simpson-Bowles (the deficit reduction committee plan) seems pretty reasonable to me. I don't agree with every part of Simpson-Bowles, but you know what, it's a good place to start. There are huge problems. We know we have a huge problem. It's a good place to start, and this President asked for it! And he got Republicans and Democrats on that Commission to vote for it. And then he left them hangin' out to dry.

TAPPER: House Republicans that were on that Commission didn't vote for it. Paul Ryan was on that Commission, and he didn't even vote for it.

CHRISTIE: Well, that's fine but some Republicans did.

TAPPER: Right.

CHRISTIE: Some Republicans did. You're not going to get unanimity, Jake. If you're looking to get unanimity, forget it. That won't happen.

TAPPER: No, but they didn't even get the number of votes within the Committee that they needed to - to get for to go to the Congress.

CHRISTIE: Right. Well, do you think if the President of the United States stood up at the State of the Union thereafter and said, "I'm sending it, I'm sending it to Congress, I want you to consider it," that they wouldn't have considered it? Of course, they would have considered it. Of course, they would have. And the President didn't lead. And when you don't lead, this is what you get. You get a fiscal cliff coming up in December because no one's willing to lead.

Watch ABC News' Jake Tapper's full interview with Gov. Chris Christie on "Nightline" tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET.

We didn't do that in New Jersey. I was confirmed with 13 billion dollars in budget deficit in a 29-billion-dollar budget when I got here. And we could have punted. We could have just said, let's raise taxes and be done with it. We didn't. We led, and we closed the budget gap. That's the way you lead. You don't lead by sitting on the sidelines and throwing stones, which is what the President's done.

-Jake Tapper

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