Carney: Obama Open To "Petite Bargain" On Budget


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: So on that offer, I mean, you’re absolutely right that some prominent Republicans have come out in recent days and said that they could live with a plan that increased tax revenue -- not to replace the sequester, but as part of kind of a renewed effort at the grand bargain. So are we going to see an effort --

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: But that would eliminate the sequester, which the whole -- the whole idea behind the --

KARL: But it would be bigger than just eliminate. You’re exactly right. But it would be bigger. So will there be an effort to jumpstart a grand bargain-type series of talks with Republicans in the coming weeks or months to achieve just that?

MR. CARNEY: I’d hesitate to place labels on things. I would simply say that the President is interested in moving forward on deficit reduction that pairs the twin objectives of entitlement reform and tax reform in the way that his proposal does, in a way that is consistent with Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin and others who have put forward ideas and proposals in a bipartisan way. And it presents an opportunity for both Republicans and Democrats to achieve some important objectives -- objectives that are important to their parties, as well as to the country, and to move forward.

KARL: So that's what the weekend calls were about? The grand bargain, not --

MR. CARNEY: Well, the weekend calls were about trying to find common ground on the way to deal with the sequester and balanced deficit reduction.

KARL: The big deal.

MR. CARNEY: But they're linked. First of all, the big deal has been partly accomplished. So when the grand bargain negotiations began with Speaker Boehner, the goal was $4 trillion. Now we’re $2.5 trillion along that road. So it may be the petite bargain -- I guess if you go all French. (Laughter.)

KARL: I'll leave that entirely to you, Jay.

MR. CARNEY: But seriously, $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, the President’s proposal would achieve $1.8 trillion in further deficit reduction in a balanced way.

KARL: Bowles-Simpson want $2.4 trillion now at this point. They’ve moved the goalpost a little bit to --

MR. CARNEY: There’s no question that more work going forward will need to be done as we deal with our fiscal challenges. But the $4 trillion in deficit reduction set as a goal by Speaker Boehner and President Obama and by many economists on the inside and outside of government can be achieved, and then some, if Republicans would embrace the President’s compromise proposal that would do some tough things on entitlements, as well as spending and on tax reform.

KARL: But you understand the difference. He’s trying to create a Republican groundswell for grand bargain talks.

MR. CARNEY: He’s just trying to find some common ground around the basic common-sense notion that we can do this in a balanced way because he knows that there are significant -- there’s a significant amount of support for that approach around the country.

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