Speaking in the White House Briefing Room today after a meeting with Congressional Leaders of both parties, the President laid out his guiding principles for the negotiations on last year's budget and looking ahead:
From the outset, my goal has been to significantly cut our domestic spending but, at the same time, make sure we’re making key investments in things like education, infrastructure, innovation -- the things that are going to help us win the future.
He was blunt in saying that the American people expect Congress to get a deal done to avoid a government shut-down and that the consequences for our economy would be unacceptable. He was also clear that he and Democrats in Congress “have more than met the Republicans halfway at this point” by agreeing to same dollar figure in cuts that Republican Leadership originally proposed:
And I just want to set the context for this now. Again, I’m going to repeat. Speaker Boehner, Chairman Rogers, the Republican appropriations chairman -- their original budget proposed $73 billion in cuts. We have now agreed to $73 billion worth of cuts. What they are now saying is, well, we’re not sure that every single one of the cuts that you’ve made are ones that we agree to; we’d rather have these cuts rather than that cut. That’s not the basis for shutting down the government. We should be able to come up with a compromise in which nobody gets 100 percent of what they want, but the American people get the peace of mind in knowing that folks here in Washington are actually thinking about them -- because they’re going through a whole lot of struggles right now.
Going forward, the President said unequivocally that his White House would be willing put in as much time as necessary to avoid a shutdown, and that he expected Congressional leaders to do the same:
The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown. Now, what does this potentially mean for the American people? At a time when the economy is just beginning to grow, where we’re just starting to see a pickup in employment, the last thing we need is a disruption that’s caused by a government shutdown. Not to mention all the people who depend on government services, whether you’re a veteran or you’re somebody who’s trying to get a passport or you’re planning to visit one of the national monuments or you’re a business leader who’s trying to get a small business loan. You don’t want delays, you don’t want disruptions just because of usual politics in Washington.
So what I said to the Speaker today, and what I said to Leader Reid, and what I’ve said to the two appropriations chairs, is that myself, Joe Biden, my team, we are prepared to meet for as long as possible to get this resolved.