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Citing Urgency, Obama Says Both Sides Need to Give

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama called out Congressional leaders from both parties on Monday, saying each side would need to compromise to reach a deal to increase the debt ceiling and that doing so “would give the American people enormous confidence that this town can actually do something once in a while.”

Speaking at a White House news conference, Obama said both sides were resistant, but they would need to give to get something done. “There’s frankly resistance on my side to do anything on entitlements; there is strong resistance on the Republican side to do anything on revenues,” he said just hours before another White House meeting with leaders.

“But if each side wants 100 percent of what it’s ideological predispositions are, then we can’t get anything done. And I think the American people want to see something done. They feel a sense of urgency,” he added.

Obama continued to call on Congressional leaders to broker a big deal to tackle the deficit, and he maintained that he would not sign a short-term plan into law. Seeking to apply pressure on Republicans, Obama noted that any plan hatched through the White House talks will need Democratic support and that GOP negotiators will have to bend to win them over.

“I have bent over backwards to work with Republicans,” he said. “I do not see a path to a deal if they don’t budge, period. If the basic proposition is, ‘It’s my way or the highway,’ then we’re probably not going to get something done because we have divided government.”

Still, the president gave praise to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who on Saturday night backed out of reaching a sweeping deal that seeks to cut $4 trillion from the deficit over 10 years and raises the debt ceiling beyond the 2012 elections. Despite that setback, Obama maintained “Speaker Boehner is sincere in doing something big.”

Congressional leaders return to the White House on Monday for another meeting, their second in as many days. The group of eight Congressional leaders, plus Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden, were not any closer to reaching a deal after a 75-minute meeting Sunday night. Obama said Monday that the group will continue to meet this week and perhaps over the weekend.

Regardless of what the group might decide ahead of the Aug. 2 deadline, when the Treasury Department predicts the government will begin to default on its loans, Obama conceded, any deal will be politically difficult for Members of both parties.

“We’re going to have [a] sales job,” he said.

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