Obama praises ‘gang of six’ debt ceiling proposal

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 15:05 EDT
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US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that “some progress” has been made in tough debt talks, as he congratulated a bipartisan group of senators busy hammering out a “balanced approach.”

“Some progress was made, in some of the discussions. Some narrowing of the issues,” the president told journalists as Democrats and Republicans sought to forge a deal to raise the US debt ceiling and agree tough spending cuts.

“The good news is that today, a group of senators, the gang of six, Democrats and Republicans… put forward a proposal that is broadly consistent with the approach that I’ve urged,” Obama told reporters at the White House.

He said that under that new approach “we’ve got to be serious about reducing discretionary spending, both in domestic spending and defense, we’ve got to be serious about tackling health care spending, and entitlements in a serious way, and we’ve got to have some additional revenue.

“So that we have an approach in which there is shared sacrifice and everybody is giving up something.”

Obama added that the US administration had just received the plan, “so we haven’t reviewed all the details of it.

“It would not match perfectly with some of the approaches that we’ve taken, but I think that we’re in the same playing field, and my hope is that we can start gathering everybody over the next couple days to choose a clear direction and to get this issue resolved,” he said.

Washington hit its $14.29 trillion debt ceiling on May 16 and has used spending and accounting adjustments, as well as higher-than-expected tax receipts, to continue operating normally, but can only do so until August 2.

Finance and business leaders have warned that failure to raise the US debt ceiling by then could send shock waves through a world economy still reeling from the 2008 collapse, while Obama has predicted economic “Armageddon.”

Republicans have so far been holding out on raising the debt ceiling without deep spending cuts, but have refused Obama’s insistence that reining in the ballooning US deficit must also be accompanied by revenue increases.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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