Obama makes final pitch for 'big deal' 

With little consensus emerging beyond the need to raise the debt ceiling, President Obama made a final pitch, of sorts, to the American public Friday for deep spending cuts and a variety of tax increases to get the nation's fiscal house in order.
"I am still pushing for us to achieve a big deal," Obama said during a morning press conference at the White House. "If we can’t do the biggest deal possible, let’s still be ambitious – at least get a down payment on deficit reduction.”

After a week of meetings with congressional leaders, however, it is clear that Obama's push for a $4 trillion package of spending cuts and tax increases over the next decade has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled House. Instead, leadership on both sides of the aisle is working behind the scenes on a fallback option that at a minimum, would raise the debt ceiling and avoid the prospect of government default.

Right now, cuts under serious discussion are in the $1.5 trillion-range, according to those involved in the talks.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. has proposed granting Obama the  authority to raise the debt ceiling — without spending cuts — but the president called that measure the "least attractive option." Obama added that "if they show me a serious plan, I’m ready to move."

Despite criticizing Republicans for injecting politics into the debate, the president predicted the impasse would have electoral repercussions, saying the American public would reward someone who is "trying to get something done."

Throughout the stalemate, Obama has defined Republicans as obstructionists unwilling to compromise because of rigid ideology sweeping through the conservative movement.

Obama told congressional leaders to come back to him over the weekend with a plan that could realistically move through their respective caucuses. Based on current talks, that will likely not include significant cuts to entitlement programs or tax increases.

Obama could preside over another meeting with lawmakers this weekend.

As multiple credit agencies threaten to downgrade the U.S. bond rating, the president predicted, "we will see this logjam broken" over the next few days.

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Brian Hughes

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