Huffpost Politics

Obama: Ronald Reagan Couldn't Have Won GOP Primary Today

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By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says if President Ronald Reagan was running for president now, he "could not get through a Republican primary today."

Obama said during a question-and-answer session with newspaper editors on Tuesday that Reagan was forced to raise taxes and spending cuts to deal with high deficits during his presidency in the 1980s.

The president says if Reagan were running today, he couldn't emerge from the current Republican primary contest led by Mitt Romney.

Obama is criticizing Republican presidential candidates who were not willing to raise taxes in order to deal with high federal budget deficits.

More of the exchange is below:

MR. SINGLETON: Thank you, Mr. President. We appreciate so much you being with us today. I have some questions from the audience, which I will ask -- and I'll be more careful than I was last time I did this.

Republicans have been sharply critical of your budget ideas as well. What can you say to the Americans who just want both sides to stop fighting and get some work done on their behalf?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I completely understand the American people’s frustrations, because the truth is that these are eminently solvable problems. I know that Christine Lagarde is here from the IMF, and she’s looking at the books of a lot of other countries around the world. The kinds of challenges they face fiscally are so much more severe than anything that we confront -- if we make some sensible decisions.

So the American people’s impulses are absolutely right. These are solvable problems if people of good faith came together and were willing to compromise. The challenge we have right now is that we have on one side, a party that will brook no compromise. And this is not just my assertion. We had presidential candidates who stood on a stage and were asked, “Would you accept a budget package, a deficit reduction plan, that involved $10 of cuts for every dollar in revenue increases?” Ten-to-one ratio of spending cuts to revenue. Not one of them raised their hand.

Think about that. Ronald Reagan, who, as I recall, is not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist, understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control, that for him to make a deal he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases. Did it multiple times. He could not get through a Republican primary today.

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