Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

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January 14, 2013

President Obama's end-of-term press conference

(Continued)

Washington, D.C. —

 
 
 
     They can't even -- Congress has not been able to identify $1.2 trillion in cuts that they're happy with.  Because these same Republicans say they don’t want to cut defense; they've claimed that they don't want to gut Medicare or harm the vulnerable.  But the truth of the matter is that you can't meet their own criteria without drastically cutting Medicare, or having an impact on Medicaid, or affecting our defense spending. So the math just doesn’t add up.
 
 
 
     Now, here’s what would work.  What would work would be for us to say we’ve already done close to $2 trillion in deficit reduction, and if you add the interest that we won’t be paying because of less spending and increased revenue, it adds up to about $2.5 trillion.  The consensus is we need about $4 trillion to stabilize our debt and our deficit, which means we need about $1.5 trillion more.  The package that I offered to Speaker Boehner before we -- before the New Year would achieve that.  We were actually fairly close in terms of arriving at that number.
 
 
 
     So if the goal is to make sure that we are being responsible about our debt and our deficit, if that’s the conversation we’re having, I’m happy to have that conversation.  And by closing some additional loopholes through tax reform -- which Speaker Boehner has acknowledged can raise money in a sensible way -- and by doing some additional cuts, including making sure that we are reducing our health care spending, which is the main driver of our deficits, we can arrive at a package that gets this thing done. 
 
 
 
I’m happy to have that conversation.  What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people -- the threat that “unless we get our way, unless you gut Medicare or Medicaid, or otherwise slash things that the American people don’t believe should be slashed, that we’re going to threaten to wreck the entire economy.”  That is not how historically this has been done.  That’s not how we’re going to do it this time.

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