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Obama says debt deal must include revenues

July 25, 2011|By Christi Parsons | Washington Bureau
  • President Obama delivers remarks at the National Council of La Raza conference in Washington.
President Obama delivers remarks at the National Council of La Raza conference… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais…)

Reporting from Washington   — As Republicans and Democrats continue trying to hammer out the details of rival plans to avert a debt crisis, President Obama on Monday called for a proposal that will raise more revenue from the wealthy — a provision that has vexed his talks with the House speaker.

Yet in a speech Monday afternoon to the nation's largest Latino interest group, Obama made the case that attacking federal debt and deficit simply by cutting government spending won't spread the burden fairly.

Some of the cuts under discussion would require seniors to pay more for their healthcare and diminish temporary assistance and job training for displaced workers.

"Not only is it not fair if all this is done on the backs of middle-class families," Obama said, "it doesn't make sense. ... That's why people from both parties have said the best way to take on our deficit is with a balanced approach ... one where wealthy Americans and corporations pay their share, too."

Republican House Speaker John A. Boehner walked away from talks with Obama a few days ago, saying that the president was pushing for more tax revenues beyond the amount he found fair. Some members of his caucus don't want revenue increases to be a part of the debt solution at all.

With just a week to go before the federal government hits the limit on its power to borrow money — and, thus, to pay both its bond holders and millions of Social Security and other government benefit recipients — each chamber is working on its own plan.

At the moment, neither Senate Democrats nor House Republicans are talking about tax revenues as part of the final deal.

Obama still believes that's not workable, aides to the president say.

And the president is now trying to cast that issue in terms of rich vs. poor. That is the "heart of this debate," he said at a luncheon of the National Council of La Raza at a Washington hotel.

"Are we a nation that asks only the middle class and the poor to bear the burden?" he said. "Are we a people who break the promises we've made to seniors and the disabled and leave them to fend for themselves? That's not who we are .... We are a people who believe in shared sacrifice."

christi.parsons@latimes.com

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