Obama, Romney Clash Over ‘Grand Bargain’ Proposals

Sep 9, 2012 1:56pm

When it comes to the 2012 presidential election, even the definition of compromise is up for debate.

In interviews that aired nearly back-to-back on political talk shows this morning, President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney were each asked how they could reach a so-called “grand bargain” to solve the nation’s debt problems if they were elected into another divided government.

While admitting the $1 trillion cut in last year’s negotiations were a “painful exercise,” the president said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he was still “more than happy to work with the Republicans” in another term.

“What I’ve said is in reducing our deficits we can make sure we cut two and a half dollars for every dollar in increased revenue,” he said.

But this same plan was rejected by the GOP-controlled House during the near-government shutdown fiasco of last year. When reminded of this fact, Obama responded, “That’s part of what this election’s about.”

“You can’t reduce the deficit unless you take a balanced approach that says, ‘We’ve got to make government leaner and more efficient,’” the president continued. “But we’ve also got to ask people — like me or Gov. Romney, who have done better than anybody else over the course of the last decade, and whose taxes are just about lower than they’ve been in the last 50 years — to do a little bit more.”

During one debate of the Republican primaries, Romney — along with every other candidate onstage — rejected the idea of settling for a compromise that would result in $10 in cuts for every dollar in new revenue.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” today, Romney was asked whether he was prepared to cut a deal that would potentially put some members of his party in revolt. The former Massachusetts governor said that while it was “critical” to avoid the financial catastrophes occurring in Europe, he would not back down from his past pledges.

“There’s nothing wrong with the term compromise, but there is something very wrong with the term ‘abandoning one’s principles,’ and I’m going to stand by my principles,” Romney said. “And those are not going to raise taxes on the American people.”

You can read an analysis of Democrats’ claim that Romney would raise taxes on the middle class HERE.

Romney also lashed out at a deal between the White House and Congress that rose out of last year’s negotiations, which set up immediate spending cuts and a self-imposed mandated $1.2 trillion cut to domestic programs and the Pentagon if a bipartisan “Super Committee” failed to arrive at a solution to reduce the deficit.

“I want to maintain defense spending at the current level of the GDP,” he said, adding that the mandated cuts were, “an extraordinary miscalculation in the wrong direction.”

“Meet the Press” host David Gregory reminded the candidate that members of his own party were part of that plan.

“And that’s a big mistake,” Romney responded. “I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it. I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it. The president was responsible for coming out with specific changes they’d make to the defense budget. It was supposed to have come out this last week. He has violated the law that he in fact signed.”

The statement seems to put him at odds with his own running mate, who was a among the Republican leadership who approved the deal. Writing for a National Review column at the time, Rep. Paul Ryan said the legislation was a “reasonable, responsible effort to cut government spending, avoid a default, and help create a better environment for job creation.”

And that hypothetical 10-1 deal? On ABC’s “This Week,” Ryan, the House Budget Committee chair, wouldn’t flatly reject it either.

“You know, it depends on the quality of the agreement,” Ryan told George Stephanopoulos. “It depends on the quality of the policy. Our negotiators in the super committee offered higher revenues through tax reform. [House Speaker] John Boehner did as well. So George, what really matters to me is not ratios but what matters is the quality of the policy.”

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