“I guess another way of thinking about this--and this bears on your reporting--I think that there is oftentimes the impulse to suggest that if the two parties are disagreeing that they are equally at fault and the truth lies somewhere in the middle, equivalence is presented, which reinforces people’s cynicism about Washington in general,” Obama said. “This is not a situation where there is equivalence.”
“I’ve got some of the most liberal Democrats in Congress were prepared to make some of the most significant changes in entitlements that go against their political interest and who said they were willing to do it,” Obama added. “We couldn’t get a Republican to stand up and say we’ll raise some revenue or even to say we won’t give more tax cuts to people who don’t need them.”
The president was speaking at the Associated Press luncheon at the American Society of Newspaper Editor’s convention in Washington, D.C.
“So, as all of you are doing your reporting, I think it’s important to remember, the positions I’m taking now on the budget and a host of other issues, if we’d been having this discussion 20 years ago, or even 15 years ago, would have been considered squarely centrist positions,” Obama told the editors. “What’s changed is the center of the Republican Party. That’s certainly true with the budget.”
Obama made his remarks about what he sees as the excessive balance of the news media in reporting on the budget after arguing that his budget proposal largely reflected the plan developed by former Clinton Chief-of-Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, who chaired his fiscal commission. A version of Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget was voted on in the House last month and died 0-414.
“Let’s look at Bowles-Simpson. My difference with Bowles-Simpson, I actually proposed less revenue and slightly lower spending cuts,” Obama said. “The Republicans want to increase defense spending and take in no revenue, which makes it impossible to balance the deficit under under the terms that Bowles-Simpson laid out, unless you essentially eliminate discretionary spending. You don’t just cut discretionary spending.
Everything we think of as being pretty important, from education, to basic science and research, to national parks, to environmental protection, we’d essentially have to eliminate.”