President Obama kicked off the final news conference of his first term by renewing his call for Congress to approve a “balanced” deficit-reduction package that includes both spending cuts and new revenues.
Republican leaders have said repeatedly that the Jan. 1 fiscal cliff agreement ended any discussion of raising new revenue and that in upcoming negotiations they would deal only in spending cuts. Obama made clear that he does not agree.
He reiterated that he is “open to making modest adjustments to programs like Medicare.”
"The fact is, though, we can't finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone," Obama added. "We need more revenue."
“We’ve made progress,” he said. “We are moving toward our ultimate goal of getting to a $4 trillion reduction. And there will be more deficit reduction when Congress decides what to do about the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that have been pushed off until next month.”
He objected to the characterization of a debt ceiling increase as analogous to more government spending. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has demanded a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar the debt ceiling is raised.
"The debt ceiling is not a question of authorizing more spending," Obama said. "Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending. it simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already agreed to."