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White House / WHITE HOUSE

Obama Huddles With Bowles and Simpson

Deficit mania continues at the White House.

April 14, 2011

The day after delivering his plan for curbing the budget deficit, President Obama received a strong endorsement from one of the co-chairs of his bipartisan fiscal commission.

"I think he has come out with a solid, responsible plan," said Democrat Erskine Bowles, after a morning meeting in the Oval Office with Obama and several senior administration officials. "While it doesn’t have as much deficit reduction as quickly as we do, it does get to $4 trillion of deficit reduction."

Alan Simpson, the Republican co-chairman of the commission, said there were "many good things" in the Obama plan and praised the president for tapping Biden to lead Congressional negotiations set to begin when lawmakers return form their spring recess.

 

"He has a remarkable political gift, and he can do things," Simpson said of Biden. "...The next step is the key, and it is the Gang of Six."

Before the meeting, Obama again called for cooperation from Republicans on solving the nation's budget conundrum. Republicans criticized the president's fiscal policy address on Wednesday at George Washington University for being overly partisan.

“At some point, we’re going to have to come together as Americans,” Obama said.

Bowles and Simpson said they were comfortable with substance of Obama's speech, but declined to comment on the tone.

Obama didn’t endorse the Bowles-Simpson commission's recommendations for curbing the deficit, but he credited the men for developing the framework that helped shape his plan.

Obama, who endorsed raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans in his fiscal policy address, repeated his refrain that all Americans should shoulder the costs of reducing the deficit.

In his speech at George Washington, Obama was sharply critical of the Republican plan—drafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.—for putting an unfair burden on the elderly and poor. In part, the Ryan plan calls for steep cuts in government funding of Medicare and Medicaid, something that Obama said was unacceptable.

“I think these gentlemen share the view that we can’t exempt anybody from these efforts,” Obama said. “It’s not appropriate for us to ask for sacrifices from everybody except for the 2 percent of Americans who are doing best, but rather we should ask everybody to participate in this effort to get our fiscal house in order.”

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