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Debt committee failure: Obama blasts Republicans

November 22, 2011 10:53 IST

Barack ObamaUS President Barack Obama on Monday blasted lawmakers of the opposition Republican Party for the failure of a high-powered debt super committee to reach even a minimal deal to reduce the burgeoning national deficit.

Clearly miffed, Obama threatened to veto any legislation that would void the 0 billion in national defence cuts proposed by his Administration.

"There's still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington," Obama told reporters in a statement late on Monday evening.

"They continue to insist on protecting 0 billion worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest two per cent of Americans at any cost, even if it means reducing the deficit with deep cuts to things like education and medical research.

"Even if it means deep cuts in Medicare," he said.

"So at this point, at least, they simply will not budge from that negotiating position. And so far, that refusal continues to be the main stumbling block that has prevented Congress from reaching an agreement to further reduce our deficit," Obama alleged.

Obama said the question right now is whether they can reduce the deficit in a way that helps the economy grow, that operates with a scalpel, not with a hatchet, and if not, whether Congress is willing to stick to the painful deal that they made in August for automatic cuts.

Some in Congress are already trying to undo these automatic spending cuts, he said.

"My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defence spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one," Obama said.

"We need to keep the pressure up to compromise -- not turn off the pressure.

"The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least .2 trillion.

"That's exactly what they need to do.

"That's the job they promised to do. And they've still got a year to figure it out," he said.

Obama's statement to the press came soon after the debt super committee announced that they have failed to reach a compromise.

"After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee's deadline," Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Jeb Hensarling, the co-chairmen of the super committee, said in a joint statement.

"The stalemate highlighted the sharp divide between Republicans and Democrats over the nation's deficit and triggers a year-long fight over .2 trillion in automatic cuts to the Pentagon and civilian spending programmes now scheduled to be implemented in January, 2013," the committee said.

Image: Barack Obama

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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