Obama cited polls to suggest that voters side with him, noting that he continues to press for a sweeping package that would include taxing the rich and restraining future entitlement spending, though he has never spelled out details publicly.
"My Republican friends have said that they're not willing to do revenues, and they have repeated that on several occasions," he said at the press conference. "My hope, though, is that they're listening not just to lobbyists or special interests here in Washington, but they're also listening to the American people. Because it turns out, poll after poll show that it's not just Democrats who think we need to take a balanced approach, it's Republicans as well."
Several times he faulted bickering lawmakers, noting that "Congress has run up the credit card, and we now have an obligation to pay our bills."
And he cast himself as the adult, distancing himself from reports that five consecutive negotiating sessions with congressional leaders at the White House this week were contentious.
Meanwhile, House Republicans have their own plan on how to proceed. Their "cut, cap and balance" proposal, unveiled at a House GOP caucus meeting Friday, is unlikely to include any specific spending cuts.
While no final legislation has yet surfaced, the plan, pushed hard by conservatives, is expected to require cuts in spending that would reduce the deficit in half next year. It's $1.5 trillion this year. The legislation also would have enforceable spending caps. If spending exceeds the agreed-upon amount, automatic reductions would be triggered.
"I say it's time to take a stand. And the Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011 is that stand," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.
To House GOP leaders, Tuesday's vote will be a strong statement of their serious intention to make difficult spending cuts. To Democrats, it's a gimmick that "provides cover for people who will eventually have to vote for a deal," as Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., put it.
If Republicans were serious about deficit reduction, they'd keep negotiating with Obama, said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
Instead, they're saying, "We are going to proceed in a unilateral fashion," he said.
But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, insisted that the coming vote will be more than symbolic.
"As Moody's and Standard & Poor's have signaled this week, our nation's economy is literally begging for Washington to take meaningful action to cut spending and reduce the deficit," he said.
Actually, the two ratings agencies said they may have to downgrade the U.S. credit rating if Washington fails to raise its debt ceiling.
The cut, cap and balance plan would not by itself raise the debt limit; that would happen under the GOP plan only if a new balanced budget amendment to the Constitution were ratified. That requires approval by three-fourths of state legislatures as well as two-thirds of each house of Congress, which probably won't happen, and wouldn't happen fast in any scenario.
House Republican leaders hosted a crowded press conference Thursday to announce their plan to push the amendment, but they delayed a vote initially set for Friday -- apparently realizing they couldn't muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass it.
The Senate is expected to vote on the proposed amendment next week.
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