Obama: ‘We Can’t Just Close Our Deficits By Cutting Spending’

By Edwin Mora | July 25, 2011 | 5:54pm EDT

Washington (CNSNews.com) -- President Barrack Obama today said that the federal deficit and the national debt could not be reduced solely “by cutting spending.”

During a speech at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference in Washington, D.C., the president said, “If we don’t address the debt that’s already on our national credit card, it will leave us unable to invest in things like education, to protect vital programs. So I’ve already said I’m willing to cut spending that we don’t need by historic amounts to reduce our long-term deficit -- make sure that we can invest in our children’s future.”

“I’m willing to take on the rising costs of health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid to make sure that they’re strong and secure for future generations,” he said. “But we can’t just close our deficits by cutting spending. That’s the truth and Americans understand that.”

President Barack Obama discusses the continuing budget talks, Tuesday, July 19, 2011, in the the briefing room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Obama continued: “Because if all we do is cut, then seniors will have to pay a lot more for their health care and students will have to pay a lot more for college, and workers who get laid off might not have any temporary assistance or job training to get them back on their feet. And with gas prices this high we’d have to stop much of the clean energy research that will help us free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil.”

Obama went on to say that middle class and poor families would bear the burden of fixing the federal government’s fiscal problems if only spending cuts were part of a debt ceiling plan.

“It may sound good to save a lot of money over the next five years, but not if we sacrifice our future for the next 50,” said Obama.

The debt ceiling is the amount of money the federal government is legally allowed to borrow. The current limit, $14.25 trillion, was reached on May 16. The Treasury Department has advised lawmakers and the president to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling to borrow more money or face a potential default on some U.S. commitments.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader (R-Va.) (AP Photo)

The debt ceiling talks have focused on an increase of about $2.5 trillion, which would carry the government into early 2013, after the 2012 presidential election.

Republicans, who control the House, oppose any new taxes as part of a deal to raise the debt limit.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are working on competing solutions to raising the debt limit.

According to the Associated Press, Boehner’s plan involves a two-step process that includes an immediate $1.2 trillion in cuts and spending caps coupled with a six-month hike to the debt ceiling of $900 billion to be followed by another round later. The plan also calls for the creation of a congressional committee responsible for producing nearly $2 trillion in additional cuts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is advancing his own plan.

“We are putting together a $2.7 trillion deficit reduction package that meets Republicans’ two major criteria: It will include enough spending cuts to meet or exceed the amount of a debt ceiling raise through the end of 2012, and it will not include revenues [tax increases],” Reid said on Sunday.

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