In in a short statement before today’s White House press briefing, President Obama threw his lot in with the “Gang of Six,” who this morning unveiled a $3.7 trillion deficit reduction package at a meeting of about 50 senators. He said the plan was “consistent with the approached that I’ve urged” in that it contains cuts to both discretionary and defense spending, significant savings in entitlement programs and a “revenue component.” In other words: “shared sacrifice.”
Obama said the proposal was a “very significant step” and expressed hope that congressional leaders are “prepared to start talking turkey . . . and move this thing forward.” However, he said the contingency plan being negotiated by Senate leaders Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) “continues to be a necessary approach” in the event a deal cannot be reached. “We’re in the eleventh hour. There’s not a lot of time left,” he said. “At a minimum, we’ve got to raise the debt ceiling.”
In a not-so-subtle dig at House Republicans, who today are voting on their “Cut, Cap, and Balance” legislation, Obama warned: “We don’t have any more time to engage in symbolic gestures. It’s time to get down to the business of actually solving the problem.”
The president said he intended to call House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) this afternoon following votes in the House in order to arrange a meeting schedule for the remainder of the week.