Obama says he's confident a grand bargain can be reached

Alan Diaz/AP

President Obama is doubling down on optimism that he and Congress will be able to quickly handle the nation's vexing fiscal problems.

Obama told the Des Moines Register that he thinks a grand bargain with Republicans on long-term deficit reduction is achievable and predicted it could happen by the middle of next year if he is re-elected. He told the newspaper, "we're going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business."

"It will probably be messy. It won't be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain," Obama added. Republicans, he predicted, will ultimately accept his long-standing offer to enact 2.5 times more spending cuts than increases.

The bruising battles that Obama had with congressional Republicans in 2011 have left many in Washington far less optimistic about the prospects for a broad budget deal. Obama tried in a series of talks with House Speaker John Boehner to reach a grand bargain but the discussions fell apart. In the aftermath, the partisan rancor only worsened.

In a debate on Monday night, Obama also seemed confident about the prospects for heading off the tax hikes and automatic spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. During the face-off with rival Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama said that sequestration "will not happen."

Critics said that comment might have cost Obama some leverage with Republicans. Aiming to pressure congressional Republicans to give ground on the Democrats' call for allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to rise on the wealthiest Americans, prominent Democrats have signaled a willingness to jump off the cliff rather than approve a continuation of the high-income tax cuts.

In his comments during the debate, the president was reiterating a long-held position, White House spokesman Jay Carney said after the debate. Sequestration was "designed and passed by Congress" and was never meant to become policy, he said.

Some congressional Republicans, including Boehner, R-Ohio, have said Congress's post-election lame-duck session is not the time to tackle such a big problems. Meanwhile, some Democrats, including the Senate's third-ranking Democrat Chuck Schumer, N.Y., have voiced optimism that a deal could be reached in the final two months of the year.

Obama's Tuesday comments to the Des Moines Register were originally off the record, but a transcript was made public by the White House on Wednesday after the newspaper's editor pressed for permission to make them public. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.