Obama back to the briefing room
July 19th, 2011
04:17 PM ET

Obama back to the briefing room

President Obama made a quick stop by the briefing room to update the press and the American people on the latest debt ceiling negotiations. 

Full remarks are after the jump

     THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  I wanted to give folks a quick update on the progress that we're making on the debt ceiling discussions.

     I was in contact with all the leadership over the course of the weekend and continued to urge both Democrats and Republicans to come together around an approach that not only lifts the debt ceiling but also solves the underlying challenges that we face when it comes to debt and deficits. 

     Some progress was made in some of the discussions, some narrowing of the issues.  Speaker Boehner and the Republican House caucus felt it necessary to put forward the plan that they're going to be voting on today.  I think everyone's estimation is, is that that is not an approach that could pass both chambers, it's not an approach that I would sign and it's not balanced.  But I understand the need for them to test that proposition.

     The problem we have now is we're in the 11th hour and we don't have a lot more time left.  The good news is that today a group of senators, the Gang of Six, Democrats and Republicans - I guess now Gang of Seven, because one additional Republican senator added on - put forward a proposal that is broadly consistent with the approach that I've urged.  What it says is we've got to be serious about reducing discretionary spending both in domestic spending and defense; we've got to be serious about tackling health care spending and entitlements in a serious way; and we've got to have some additional revenue so that we have an approach in which there is shared sacrifice and everybody is giving up something.

     And so, for us to see Democratic senators acknowledge that we've got to deal with our long-term debt problems that arise out of our various entitlement programs, and for Republican senators to acknowledge that revenues will have to be part of a balanced package that makes sure that nobody is disproportionately hurt from us making progress on the debt and deficits I think is a very significant step.  And as I said, the framework that they put forward is broadly consistent with what we've been working on here in the White House and with the presentations that I've made to the leadership when they've come over here.

     So here's where we stand.  We have a Democratic President and administration that is prepared to sign a tough package that includes both spending cuts, modifications to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare that would strengthen those systems and allow them to move forward, and would include a revenue component.  We now have a bipartisan group of senators who agree with that balanced approach.  And we’ve got the American people who agree with that balanced approach. 

My hope, and what I will be urging Speaker Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, as well as Leader Reid and Mitch McConnell, is that they, tomorrow, are prepared to start talking turkey and actually getting down to the hard business of crafting a plan that can move this forward in time for the August 2nd deadline that we’ve set forward.

     Just a couple of other points I will make.  Some of you may ask, what does it mean for the plan that Senator McConnell and Senator Reid had been working on?  Our attitude is, is that that continues to be a necessary approach to put forward.  In the event that we don’t get an agreement, at minimum, we’ve got to raise the debt ceiling.  So that’s the bare minimum that has to be achieved, but we continue to believe that we can achieve more.

     And so I want to congratulate the Gang of Six for coming up with a plan that I think is balanced.  We just received it, so we haven’t reviewed all the details of it.  It would not match perfectly with some of the approaches that we’ve taken, but I think that we’re in the same playing field.  And my hope is, is that we can start gathering everybody over the next couple of days to choose a clear direction and to get this issue resolved. 

So far, at least, the markets have shown confidence that leadership here in Washington are not going to send the economy over a cliff.  But if we continue to go through a lot of political posturing, if both sides continue to be dug in, if we don’t have a basic spirit of cooperation that allows us to rise above immediate election-year politics and actually solve problems, then I think markets here, the American people, and the international community are going to start reacting adversely fairly quickly.

     So I think it’s very important for in these next couple of days to understand we don’t have any more time to engage in symbolic gestures; we don’t have any more time to posture.  It’s time to get down to the business of actually solving this problem.  And I think we now are seeing the potential for a bipartisan consensus around what that would take.

     It will be hard.  It will be tough.  There are still going to be a lot of difficult negotiations that have to take place in order for us to actually get something done.  And as I said, we have to have that failsafe that Senator McConnell and Senator Reid are working on.  But the hope is, is that everybody seizes this opportunity.

     All right?  Okay, guys, I’m going to let Jay answer questions today.  I think I’ve been pretty good to you guys.  (Laughter.)  But after the votes today in the House, I’ll call up Speaker Boehner and the other leadership and we’ll arrange for times where we bring folks back here, and hopefully we’ll be able to report on some additional progress over the next few days.

     All right?  Thank you very much, guys.

     Q    When will you announce whether you will be supporting the Gang of Six plan?  Would that be in the next day?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as I said, I think what you’re going to be seeing is an evaluation of that plan versus the things that we’ve been looking at.  I think what you’re going to see is some significant overlap.  But obviously just because we might agree in principle with a range of issues with six senators or seven senators, that doesn’t get us out of the House of Representatives; that doesn’t get us out of the Senate.  There’s going to have to be a broader agreement on the part of all the leadership that we’re going to get this done in a serious way, and we’ve got a tight deadline to do it. 

     All right?  Thanks, guys.

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soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. cyd


    July 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Sheila Swegler

      Will someone please read bio of Grover Norquist, man behind the pledge against new taxes, hijacker of our economy. Who pays himself $200,000 for 26 hours of work a week. Americans work as much as 80 hours a week for far less, and understand taxes are necessary for us to have safety nets! How can this guy work for so many special interests? he has to be a lobbyist. A quick read on Wikipedia about him, and I was instantly suspicious. How about having a serious journalistic dig?

      July 23, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  2. Maggie

    This man is really sick. Wants to take credit for everything. 2012 can't come soon enough and we vote him out of office. Don't want to see or from him after he is gone!!!!!

    July 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Tim

      Please tell me where the President takes credit for something in this transcript. He only pointed out that he, the Gang of Six, and the American people are on the same page about how our debt crisis ought to be handled. Either you're a delusional, partisan hack hellbent on hating anything Obama does, or you have the reading comprehension of an 8th grader. Maybe both. Who knows. . .

      July 19, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
      • jean2009

        I'll go with the delusional hack with the reading comprehension of a 5th grader. Obviously didn't make it through paragraph nine.

        July 21, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • kefa34

      the tongue of the just is as choice
      silver the heart of the wicked is
      little worth.
      american was bold in the
      persuit of knowledge never fearing
      to follow truth and reason to what ever
      results they lead .
      I like the dreams of the future better
      better than the history of the past .

      July 19, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  3. John

    the solution is simple and written in the constitution:

    July 19, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • kefa34

      what course shall a man persue in life to them that walk uprightly
      that which does honor to his maker,, the people of the earth have the
      same maker and,,, brings esteem from his fellowmen'
      to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose
      under the heaven .
      so I returned and consider all the oppression that are done under the sun
      and behold the tears of such as were oppressed and they had no comforter
      and on the side of their oppressors there was power but they had no comforter.
      before judging your followman
      put yourself in his place
      who is wise
      he who learns from all men
      who is strong
      he who is master over his impulses
      who is rich .
      he who rejoices in whatever is his portion.
      who is honored
      he who honors his fellowmen.
      .let not your learning exceed your deeds ,
      lest you be like a tree with many branches
      and few roots.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • kefa34

      true freedom derides it just powers from the concent of the Government.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  4. Susan

    Obama should never have let the GOP back him into a corner. They can raise the debt ceiling now, but they would rather use the full faith and credit of the United States as a wedge to cut Social Security and Medicare. Obama needs to defend these programs. If they want to make cuts, then end the wars!

    July 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  5. Adam Barrigan

    Dear Mr. President Obama,

    I am a twelve year old living in Springfield VA. My father told me that unless the two major political parties agree to lincrease the federal spending limit that the goverment will have to shut down. I have two questions: 1). If the federal government stops all federal services are taxpayers still obligated to continue paying taxes? 2). Will the salaries and benefits of lawmakers in the Congress and the Senate be suspended and if so, might that be a powerful reason to negotiate a speedy solution?

    Thank you for your time and consideration,


    Adam Z. Barrigan

    July 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • John

      Adam, I assume you are in the very, very advanced class.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:01 am |
      • Adam Barrigan

        Thank you for recognizing true genius, but I will lend my talents to the NBA when I reach my expected height and finish at least one year in D-1 college.


        July 20, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
      • jean2009

        Or, a very old 12 year old.
        Answer to question # 1 is yes, and question #2 the answer is no, if there is not enough to pay other bills. I doubt if not being paid would be an incentive.

        July 21, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  6. i8jomomma

    they can't reach an agreement because they stole our money and they don't know how to tell us that................... we call this stall tactic................... job security..........milk this debate for what it's worth............they can tell us anything they want and they know we ain't do anything about it but say how high when they say jump..............we lost our touch since the LA riots and they know this......ha ha............... we get what we deserve

    July 19, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • kefa34

      From the Alantic to the pacific one G-D to be worshipped
      one saviour to be revered one policy to be carried out freedom
      everywhere to all the people without regard to complexion or race and
      the blessing of G-D resting upon us all american wants to see that glorious
      day now to the american that is full of tribulation and terror and despair
      would to G-D it might all pass away like a hideous dream and how eaisly it
      might be ,
      what is it that G-D requires of american to remove every root of bitterness
      to allay every fear to fill american and her borders with prosperity.

      July 19, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
      • John

        Do you understand that people can disagree without being bitter?
        Please tell us what you are talking about – I have a few questions about what you wrote.
        "America was bold in the pursuit of knowledge" – does this mean now that we have knowledge of how this presidents policies are not working? "truth and reason to what ever results they lead" – do you mean the repubs have actually proposed a plan and are trying to lead? "I like the dreams of the future better" – do you mean you are looking forward to 2012 when we can vote out "O"? "without regard to complexion or race" do you mean you are against the people who say we do not like "O"'s policies because he is of a different color? "American and her borders" – do you mean you are upset that we have no real borders?

        July 20, 2011 at 6:00 am |
  7. Juan Viche

    supposedly each of us owes 500,000 dollars because of all the stolen money. well check the link and make some phone calls and call your senators if this is legit as it's something that can't be ignored: http://tekgnosis.typepad.com/tekgnosis/2011/07/usa-debt-ceiling-issues-can-be-resolved-now-usd-11-trillion-payout.html

    July 19, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  8. Kendall DePascal

    Has evereyone up in DC forgotten that if you decide NOT to give a COLA to the millions of disabled who's only income is SSDI – you are going to end up with even higher COSTS because they will end up in the hospital !! There i no way a disabled person can live 5 yrs, 10 yrs out on the same income at today's level – could you?? Let's face it, things cost more today than they did 10 years ago – which is why we have a COLA – if you want to take that away from disabled people, I GUARANTEE it will cost America FAR more in actual costs from increased medical costs due to deteriorated lifestyle on such limited incomes. I am a brain injury survivor, but living on SSDI is no joy or plush living I can guarantee you. If Pres Obama and others want to say that in 5 or 10 years I can still live on what I get today and be able to pay my mortgage, utilities, food, gas, dental, drug costs – they are COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH and living on another planet!!!

    July 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm |