Obama: Public is 'sold' on tax increases in a debt-ceiling deal
By Alicia M. Cohn
7/15/11 11:54 AM ET
President Obama on Friday kept up the pressure on Republicans to agree to revenue increases in a deal to raise the debt ceiling, claiming 80 percent of the public supports Democrats' demand for tax increases.
"The American people are sold," he said. "The problem is members of Congress are dug in ideologically."
Obama said 80 percent of Americans are on his side in the debate over what to include in the debt package. Voters are paying attention to "who seems to be trying to get something done," the president said. "It's going to be in the interests of everybody who wants to serve in this town to make sure they are on the right side of that impression."
"I hope [Republicans are] not just listening to lobbyists and special interests ... I hope they're listening to the American people as well," Obama said, citing "poll after poll" showing Republican voters, as well as Democrats, believe in taking "a balanced approach" — including both increased revenues and spending cuts in a plan to cut the deficit.
Obama said he is still pushing for a large deal to raise the debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline despite the hardening of positions on Capitol Hill.
"I always have hope," Obama said. "Don't you remember my campaign?"
The president said he is still waiting on his "Republican friends" to come up with a plan he can support.
"If they show me a serious plan, I'm ready to move," the president said.
The president dismissed the "Cut, Cap and Balance" bill to raise the debt ceiling that House Republicans plan to bring up for a vote next week. That plan would link a debt-limit increase to passage of a balanced-budget amendment.
"You'll probably see the House vote on a couple of things just to make political statements," Obama said.
"We don't need a constitutional amendment to do our jobs," he said, rejecting conservative calls for a balanced-budget amendment. "The constitution already tells us to do our jobs."
Obama didn't rule out the fall-back plan proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that would give the president the power to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a national default.
"It is constructive to say that if Washington operates as usual and can't get anything done, let's at least avert Armageddon," he said. However, Obama said he wanted to address the deeper debt issues.
"I have not seen a credible plan ... that would allow you to get to $2.4 trillion without really hurting ordinary folks," he said.