President Obama just made an unscheduled appearance at a White House press briefing and discussed ongoing negotiations with Congressional leadership on a long-term spending measure.
Obama said the two parties were “closer than we’ve ever been” to a compromise, but urged Republicans not to adopt a “my way or the highway” attitude that could lead to a government shutdown. He said negotiations would continue every day until a deal is reached, but at the same time seemed to indicate that he would not support another short-term continuing resolution — like the one introduced by House Republicans yesterday — that would make further cuts. Instead, Obama said he would only support a “clean” resolution lasting “two or three days” that would give time to sort out the “paperwork” on a long-term deal.
“The last time we did an extension it was to give parties a chance to get things done,” Obama said, adding that there is “no excuse” for an additional C.R.
When asked whether Americans would blame Democrats or Republicans for a potential government shutdown, Obama dodged. “I don’t think the American people are interested in blaming somebody” for a shutdown, but instead want solutions.
Obama criticized Congress for not completing a budget sooner, saying that it would be irresponsible to allow a shutdown over “last year’s business.” “Keep in mind we’re dealing with a budget that could have gotten done three months ago, one month ago,” he said. Left unsaid was the fact that the budget could have been done last year, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.
The president stressed the importance of compromise, suggesting Democrats have met Republicans “more than half-way” on the size and scope of cuts. “Everybody’s gotta take a haircut, and we’ve been willing to do that,” he said. Democrats have agreed to $73 billion in cuts (or closer to $33 billion depending on how one does the math), which Obama said matched the original Republican proposal.
Responding to a follow-up question about the GOP position that some of the proposed Democratic cuts are “smoke and mirrors,” Obama issued a broad denial, but added, “I’ll let Carney or Jack Lew get into the details.”