Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Obama vows "hard choices" on debt as Democrats fume

President Barack Obama insisted on Friday he was prepared to make "tough choices" for a sweeping deficit-reduction deal to avert a U.S. default, despite Democrats warning him not to make too many concessions.

With the deadline to raise the debt ceiling now just 11 days away, the Democratic president appealed for compromise by both parties as he and the top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, pursued a plan for up to $3 trillion in spending cuts.

"I'm willing to sign a plan that includes tough choices I would not normally make, and there are a lot of Democrats and Republicans in Congress who I believe are willing to do the same thing," Obama said at a town hall-style meeting at the University of Maryland.

While an agreement did not look imminent, Obama faced increasingly vocal complaints from his own Democrats on a deal-in-the-making that could mean painful curbs in popular health and retirement programs but no immediate increase in taxes.

"I've never seen frustration higher," Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said after a week of sometimes chaotic efforts to sort through conflicting options and stave off a potentially devastating default on the nation's financial obligations. (more)