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Posted at 09:30 AM ET, 05/12/2011

Obama again calls for ‘trigger’ to help balance budget

Speaking at a town hall in Washington, President Obama touted his idea for a provision that would automatically impose tax increases and spending cuts to balance the federal budget.

In the CBS News sponsored town hall that was taped at the Newseum Wednesday but aired Thursday, Obama repeated the proposal that he included in his major deficit speech last month. Many Republicans have said they oppose this kind of budget “trigger.”

Obama’s comments come as congressional leaders and the White House try to negotiate a deal on increasing the federal debt ceiling. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday said he wants a deal to cut agency spending over the next two years and make significant changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

On Wednesday, Obama said, “I think what we’re going to end up having to do probably is to set some targets, and say, you know, those targets have to be hit -- if not, automatically, some cuts and tax increases start taking place. That will give incentive for us to negotiate and figure something out.”

Obama will likely reiterate this view in a meeting Thursday at the White House with Senate Republicans to discuss fiscal issues. A few hours later, Vice President Biden will hold a separate session with a small group of lawmakers from both parties who have been designated to seek an agreement on reducing the long-term federal budget deficit.

At the town hall, whose audience was picked by CBS, the president mostly took questions about pocketbook issues. Asked about CEO pay increasing while income growth for middle-income Americans has stagnated, Obama called for U.S. companies to “step up.”

“When I talk to CEOs -- the issue here is not uncertainty,” he said. “The issue is they’ve got to start placing their bets on America. It is time for companies to step up.”

He added, “American taxpayers contributed to that process [in 2008 and 2009] of stabilizing the economy. Companies have benefited from that, and they’re making a lot of money. And now’s the time for them to start betting on American workers and American products.”

Staff writer Lori Montgomery also contributed to this story.

By Perry Bacon Jr.  |  09:30 AM ET, 05/12/2011

 
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