Speaking in the White House just now, President Obama continued pushing for a “Big Deal” in the debt limit showdown, endorsing the work of the Gang of Six and encouraging lawmakers to agree to a compromise following the outlines of a draft proposal released today by the Senate’s Gang of Six, which includes Dick Durbin, Tom Coburn, Kent Conrad, Mark Warner, Mel Crapo and Saxby Chambliss.
President Obama said the plan was consistent with his proposal for a $ 4 trillion deficit reduction package, including cuts in entitlements as well as additional revenue.
The good news is that today a group of senators, the gang of six, Democrats and Republicans, I guess the gang of seven because of one additional Republican senator added on, put forward a proposal that is broadly consistent with the approach that I’ve urged. What it says is we’ve got to be serious about reducing discretionary spending, both in domestic spending and defense. We’ve got to be serious about tackling health care spending and entitlements in a serious way. And we’ve got to have some additional revenue, so that we have an approach in which there’s shared sacrifice and everybody is giving up something. So for us to see Democratic senators acknowledge we’ve got to deal with our long-term debt problems that arise out of our various entitlement programs, and for Republican senators to acknowledge that revenues will have to be part of a balanced package that makes sure nobody is disproportionately hurt by us making progress on the debt and deficits, I think is a very significant step.
President Obama urged congressional leaders to develop a compromise modeled on the gang of six proposal, but given that it includes revenue, it’s hard to see how it could through the House, so it’s not clear what substantive impact today’s statement will have. Obama acknowledged that such a compromise might not be possible, and said the fallback option pursued by Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid provided a good failsafe. Their plan would give Obama authority to raise the debt limit while cutting $ 1.5 trillion in spending.
11:39 AM PT: To clarify, President Obama didn’t endorse each element of the Gang of Six proposal, but rather he embraced the general work that they’ve done. He praised their plan as balanced, but said the administration hadn’t yet reviewed every component of the plan. “We just received it,” he said, “so we haven’t reviewed all the details of it. It would not match perfectly with some of the approaches that we’ve taken, but I think that we’re in the same playing field, and my hope is that we can start gathering everybody over the next couple of days to choose a clear direction and get this issue resolved.”
11:48 AM PT: I added President Obama’s full remarks below the fold. As you can see, he stopped short of fully endorsing the Gang of Six proposal; rather he praised them for developing a bipartisan plan that includes both revenue and spending cuts, implicitly underscoring the refusal by House Republicans to agree to a balanced plan.