WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is conceding "we're probably not going to be able to get a deal" on budget, tax and spending issues with Congress if Republicans continue to insist that no new revenues can be raised unless entitlement programs are significantly overhauled.
Obama, who has been stepping up efforts to talk to both Republicans and Democrats this week, tells ABC News that "ultimately, it may be that the differences are just too wide."
In the interview broadcast Wednesday, the president says he doesn't think such a stalemate would amount to a fiscal emergency. "We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt," he tells George Stephanopoulos. "In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place."
But he also says a failure to reach a budget deal would be regrettable. Obama says the purpose of his visits to Capitol Hill this week is "to identify what I call the common-sense caucus" in an effort to break the political gridlock.
Transcript of Obama's response, via ABC News:
Right now, what I’m trying to do is create an atmosphere where Democrats and Republicans can go ahead, get together, and try to get something done. And, y– you know– I think what’s important to recognize is that– we’ve already cut– $2.5– $2.7 trillion out of the deficit. If the sequester stays in, you’ve got over $3.5 trillion of deficit reduction already.
And, so, we don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place. The question is, can we do it smarter, can we do it better? And– you know, what I’m saying to them is I am prepared to do some tough stuff. Neither side’s gonna get 100%. That’s what the American people are lookin’ for. That’s what’s gonna be good for jobs. That’s what’s gonna be good for growth.
But ultimately, it may be that– the differences are just– too wide. It may be that ideologically, if their position is, “We can’t do any revenue,” or, “We can only do revenue if we gut Medicare or gut Social Security or gut Medicaid,” if that’s the position, then we’re probably not gonna be able to get a deal.