President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders announced late
Sunday an agreement to cut an initial $1 trillion from federal
government deficit spending and more than $2 trillion over 10 years,
while allowing the U.S. debt ceiling to be raised before a Tuesday
Obama speaks in support of a bipartisan deal to reduce the nation's
deficit and avoid default.
In a late night appearance in the White House briefing room, President
Obama presented a broad outline of the agreement that he noted was still
subject to crucial votes in the Senate and House of Representatives.
The first stage of the plan would cut about $1 trillion over 10 years,
while preserving what the president called job-creating investments in
education and research. The amount of spending cut over a decade would
exceed $2 trillion.
Saying the process of reaching the agreement had been difficult and that
it is not the one he would have preferred, Obama turned to a major
aspect of the deal - creation of a bipartisan committee that would make
recommendations on substantial additional cuts that Congress would then
"In this stage, everything will be on the table," he said. "To hold us
all accountable for making these reforms, tough cuts that both parties
would find objectionable would automatically go into effect, if we don't
Recommendations of the committee would be made by November, and the
proposals would be put to the U.S. Congress for an up or down vote.
The "ultimate solution" to the deficit problem, Obama said, must be
balanced, adding that the wealthiest Americans should have to give up
tax breaks and deductions. He said "modest adjustments" will be needed
in government entitlement programs such as Medicare to ensure their
stability - a position he has maintained throughout the debt and deficit
Obama said the deal at hand allows the country to avoid default and
clears the way for a "balanced plan" before the end of the year.
"Most importantly, it will allow us to avoid default and end the crisis
that Washington imposed on the rest of America," he said. "It ensures
also that we will not face the same kind of crisis in 6 months or 8
months or 12 months. And it will begin to lift the cloud of debt and the
cloud uncertainty that hangs over our economy."
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Mitch
McConnell spoke on Capitol Hill, acknowledging that the deal was a
difficult compromise for their members, but one that would avert
"I know this agreement won't make every Republican happy. It certainly
won't make every Democrat happy either," said Reid. "Both parties gave
more ground than they wanted to and neither side got as much as they
hoped. But that is the essence of compromise."
"We can assure the American people tonight that the United States of
America will not, for the first time in our history, default on its
obligations," said McConnell.
The House of Representatives and the Senate will need to vote on the
legislation to get the agreement, in the form of a bill, to the
president's desk for signature. Mr. Obama urged all lawmakers to vote
The proposal still faces obstacles among Republicans and Democrats.
House Speaker John Boehner briefed members of his Republican caucus late
Sunday. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is expected to do the same
Sunday, lawmakers representing the liberal progressive faction of
President Obama's Democratic Party expressed concern that the deal
includes too many concessions to Republicans.
The head of a group of 74 liberal Democrats, Representative Raul
Grijalva, said the agreement fails to "strike a balance" between more
cuts for working Americans and "a fairer contribution from millionaires
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus also are criticizing the deal,
and plan to hold a news conference on Monday morning to spell out their
disagreements with it.
Among Republicans, there were concerns about proposed additional cuts to
defense spending. Members of the conservative and libertarian Tea Party
movement questioned details of the agreement.