News Column

Obama Seeks 'Common Sense Caucus'

March 13, 2013
u.s. capitol

President Obama says he is trying to identify a "common sense caucus" of members of Congress who can reach a compromise on the budget crisis.

In an interview with George Stephanopoulus, Obama said his strategy was to find members of the U.S. House and Senate "who are just tired of having the same argument over and over again," ABC News reported Wednesday.

With this group, which he referred to as the "common sense caucus," "we can do sensible deficit reduction with a combination of entitlement reform, some judicious spending cuts, closing some tax loopholes that nobody really defends on their own."

Rather than the arbitrary cuts created by the sequestration, the president said, "we can actually put in place a growth strategy that creates jobs and protects the middle class and helps them thrive and grow."

He added there were only "a finite number of changes that could be made to deal with our deficit."

In recent dinner meetings with congressional leaders, Obama said he had discovered that "people don't always know what I've actually proposed. And it's a lot easier to have a conversation when there's something specific."

Obama downplayed the consequences should Congress not come to a budget agreement.

There is no "immediate crisis," Obama said. Failing to find a solution "just means that we will have missed an opportunity."

In response to a question about North Korea's cancellation of the 1953 armistice agreement and threats to fire a nuclear missile at the United States, Obama said an apparent weakening of China's support for the reclusive country was "most promising."

That change in China's attitude may allow the West to "force a recalculation" by North Korea of its belligerent stance, he said.

He deflected a question about whether he should a direct conversation with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un.

"I think that you always want to create the conditions where if you have a conversation, it's actually useful," Obama said, adding the North Koreans "know what our bottom lines are."

Source: Copyright United Press International 2013

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