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07.15.11

Obama: 'Let's Avert Armageddon'

In his third press conference on the debt ceiling in two weeks, President Obama once again called for a mix of tax increases and spending cuts in any legislation to raise the debt ceiling. Read the highlights and see video of the president’s address.
Video screenshot
  • Obama still hopes for a grand bargain on the debt ceiling, one that will save $4 trillion over the next 12 years. “I am still pushing for us to achieve a big deal,” he said at Friday’s press conference. “We still have time to do a big deal.” Asked about his optimism, he said, "I always have hope, don't you remember my campaign...even after being here two and a half years.” Nevertheless, he acknowledged that Washington is “running out of time.”
  • Obama said the deal should include both spending cuts and tax increases—or "revenue raisers". “You can envision a situation where for somebody in my position—me having to pay a little bit more—would be appropriate,” he said. “Millionaires and billionaires can afford to do a little bit more."
  • Republicans, of course, are organized in opposition to any increase in revenue. But Obama argued that in doing so, they're ignoring the wishes of their voters, who he says recognize the need to raise revenues as well as cut spending. "Poll after poll, many done by your organization, show that it's not just Democrats who think we need to take a balanced approach. It's Republicans as well," he said.
  • Obama said he was open to means-testing Medicare to keep it solvent, but that any changes would not affect current beneficiaries. He outright rejected Paul Ryan's plan to privatize part of Medicare, saying that "What we're not willing to do is restructure the program that we've seen coming out of the House over the last several months where we'd voucherize the program and have senior citizens paying $6,000 more.”
  • Obama doesn't like the way the negotiations are being covered by the press. He told reporters that “the American people are not interested in the reality TV aspects of who said what and did somebody’s feelings get hurt. They’re interested in solving the budget problem and the deficit and the debt,” he continued. “And so that may be good for chatter in this town, [but] it’s not something that folks out in the country are obsessing about.”