Obama on charm offensive: Ultimately differences may be too wide
March 13th, 2013
09:01 AM ET
9 years ago

Obama on charm offensive: Ultimately differences may be too wide

(CNN) - Talking about his recent outreach to congressional Republicans, President Barack Obama said there's a chance the bipartisan talks could all fall apart.

"Right now what I'm trying to do is create an atmosphere where Democrats and Republicans can go ahead and get together and try to get something done. But ultimately it may be that the differences are just too wide," he said in a television interview that aired Wednesday.

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The president, who made his comments on ABC's "Good Morning America," is scheduled to meet with House Republicans on Capitol Hill later Wednesday. It marks the latest step in his recent change in approach to the GOP.

Last week the president dined with 12 Republican senators and lunched with Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and last year's GOP vice presidential nominee. He's also been on the phone with two Republican senators–Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. Mark Kirk–about immigration and gun laws, among other issues.

Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia said Wednesday morning that Republicans will welcome Obama to the Capitol but they hope this is not simply a one-time stop.

"I'm hopeful that this is the first step in a long process of getting together and working together to find the common ground so that we can solve the incredible challenges that we have in this country," Price said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."

The president said his strategy is to "identify what I call the common-sense caucus," meaning a group of lawmakers who agree to make changes to entitlement reform on the spending side and close certain tax loopholes on the revenue side.

The meetings have been useful, he said, because he's realized that "people don't always know what I've proposed."

Obama, however, said that if Republicans stand by their calls for major entitlement reform and no new taxes, the president doesn't envision any sort of compromise being reached.

"If their position is we can't do any revenue or we can only do revenue if we gut Medicare or gut Social Security or gut Medicare. If that's the position, then we're probably not going to be able to get a deal," he said.

Ryan introduced his budget Tuesday, a plan that closely resembles his previous proposals that received sharp criticism from Democrats. His plan again proposes no taxes, changes to Medicare, a repeal of Obama's health care reform law, and support for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray will propose the Senate Democratic budget on Wednesday, an outline that's not expected to balance the budget in a decade, unlike Ryan's plan.

Obama said he'll introduce his own budget the week of April 8 and also said it won't balance the budget in 10 years.

In a clip from the interview that aired Tuesday night, the president said his goal "is not to chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance."

"My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to work," he continued. "And if we do that we are going to be bringing in more revenue. If we control spending and we have a smart entitlement package, then potentially what you have is balance – but it is not balance on the backs of the poor, the elderly, students who need student loans, families that have disabled kids. That is not the right way to balance our budget."

- CNN's Kevin Liptak and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

Filed under: Budget • President Obama • Republicans
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Catmandew

    See Obama will make a budget 2 weeks after government shutdown then he will get his way. Differences are too far apart so it will be more of the same impasse as we have seen. I believe it will end up no change because Obama did not get his way.

    March 13, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    You know this "charm" offensive talking point nonsense? It's rather silly for a major news organization to be pimping.

    March 13, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Why has the mainstream media adopted the right wing's catch phrase, "charm offensive". If he were a Republican they would be calling it for what it is, leadership from the bully pulpit.

    March 13, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  4. SafeJourney

    2014 is just around the corner republicans. Just look at the polls. The majority of Americans are not buying what you are selling.

    March 13, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    I see Paul Ryan simply re-rolled his old budget plan, and didn't bother to write a new one. The only change seems to be the date or year when he promises to balance the annual budget. Instead of 25 years down the road, he now claims it to be 10.

    What's more remarkable is that how the right wing has been complaining about Pres. Obama not delivering a budget until early April, while Ryan already has his ready to re-roll. In January, the administration said their budget will be delayed because of revenue changes resulting from the fiscal cliff deal.

    An early April release date, will enable them to account for additional changes resulting from the Continuing Resolution deal coming at the end of March. Apparently, Paul Ryan and the Republicans minds are already made up as to how that current negotiations are going to turn out. It reminds me of clairvoyant they were about the sequestered cuts will be going into effect.

    March 13, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. king

    lesson the repubs offensive on decimating mainstreet and handing more money to oil companies which are pushing our gas bills higher and higher, even though they are getting more oil in this country than anytime in history is rediculous. when is these folks realize that americans are not investing in our country, but we are investing in wall street who are investing in china and developing countries.

    March 13, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  7. Homer and Jethro

    The GOP wants to wreck America so they can blame Obama, and the rest of us think that's a bad idea. I'd say there's not a lot of chance of the two sides agreeing on a middle course right now.

    March 13, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. sillyT

    balanced budget? how about any budget (first)? moron.

    March 13, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    A picture speaks a thousand words, and from the look of the POTUS face n this picture, it looks like he doesn't want to be there. That's just my opinion. I wouldn't want to be in that dysfunctional place called Congress.

    March 13, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  10. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Talk is cheap. You have to get in the game. After trying all the Pie in the Sky methods that fail it is time to come back down to earth. If you want the Economy to start moving again it's pretty simple. EXTEND THE BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THOSE ABOVE $200,000.00 for at least 10 years, let the Bush Tax cuts for those below $200,000.00 expire. That way jobs will come back and the National Debt can be paid down !! I don't know when I've seen such an incompanant in the White House. Well yes I do. Never. You still out of a job ? Don't expect one as long as the Liberal's are running the show.

    March 13, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  11. I want it now

    I don't care if it's a charm offensive or not. Create a balanced budget Mr. President, anything, even if it's not a good one. We can work through the details if we have something to work from.

    March 13, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  12. Fair is Fair


    Paul Ryan can balance the federal budget – whether the one from President Obama or the US Senate -by creating a 3 percent a year tax on the wealth ($30 trillion-excluding homes) of the richest 1 percent of Americans. This would generate $900 billion in new taxes per year on top of existing taxes and thereby balance the federal budget!
    So let me get this straight. In addition to taxing the "wealthy" at higher rates... in addition to confiscating HALF of their estates upon their death (money that's ALREADY been taxed once)... you want to throw a "wealth tax" on EXISTING ASSETS (again, already been taxed once) on top of that?

    Is that your idea of a "fair share"?

    That's no "fair share"... that is COMPLETELY redistributive. If that's what you want, come out and say it like te good little communist you appear to be.

    March 13, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Ray E. (Georgia)

    Talk is cheap. You have to get in the game. After trying all the Pie in the Sky methods that fail it is time to come back down to earth. If you want the Economy to start moving again it's pretty simple. EXTEND THE BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THOSE ABOVE $200,000.00 for at least 10 years, let the Bush Tax cuts for those below $200,000.00 expire. That way jobs will come back and the National Debt can be paid down !!
    Actually, we tried that and experienced negative jobs growth during the Bush-43 years. We lost 8 million manufacturing jobs during the Bush years. But, no one really noticed a jump in unemployment because Bush also doubled the federal payroll during that time frame. If the Bush Tax Cuts were really so effective, then why did the economy crash in 2008. I blame your wizened "job creators" who experienced unprecedented economic growth during the Bush years while the jobs evaporated.

    March 13, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  14. Sniffit

    ""people don't always know what I've proposed.""

    Because they're more focused and busy on manufacturing misperception of what you've proposed. That does not in any way require that they know what you actually proposed...they just make it up as they go along, feign faux outrage over it, go to the MSM to get free distribution of their misinformation and then vote NO....or filibuster or use a secret hold, etc.

    "EXTEND THE BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THOSE ABOVE $200,000.00 for at least 10 years"

    Why? Where are all the jobs they created over the past 10 years? Yeah yeah, we know, yo've got all sorts of excuses for why they didn't, but here are the facts: those tax cuts made the wealthy far FAR wealthier than they already were and at a far FAR accelerated pace than they were already achieving said wealth. Meanwhile, the middle-class shrank and the poor got poorer. The numbers don't lie. If your ideology truly posits that jobs will be created if we do things to distribute wealth to the alleged "jobs creators," then the fact is we did that and it didn't produce the hypothesized result. Ideology disproven. Thank you, come again. Better luck next time.

    March 13, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. freedom

    He is in the ultimate position to narrow the divide. He hs noone to blame but himself for widening the divide. He behaves like a dictator.

    March 13, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  16. Remus Redbone

    Here's what appears to be happening; Obama has turned out to be one of the best campaigners in history. He took a fairly dismal 1st term record and squeezed out a victory for a second term. It was actually an extremely effective campaign and the results confirm that.

    Now, it seems he has come to what appears to be a very sudden realization; he has to work with these people.

    Obama successfully vilified his opponent in the election. It resulted in a win. He successfully vilified the Republicans in the house. It resulted in a period of very high popularity and what seemed at the time, a full acceptance of his agenda by Americans.

    Now, it's time to get things done and his opponents aren't folding. His extreme popularity in post election is slipping. Nothing is happening. Time to try some schmoozing of the opposition, BUT, he called them baby killers, throwing-grandma-off-the-bluff kind of evil rich folks, haters of the middle class, felons, murders. .....And now the realization; he has to work with these folks for the next four years.

    A quote from Obama in the George Stepanopoulos interview this week, " The gap between the parties my be too wide to reach an agreement for a grand bargain on the budget".

    Someone needs to tell the president that he built that gap. He exploited that gap. He leveraged that gap. Unless he can begin channeling LBJ or Reagan, he will never bridge that gap. It is the result of his own campaign success.

    Winning in politics comes in two parts; getting votes from the public, and getting votes from the loyal opposition. Obama is a master at one and a dismal failure at the other. That's the sudden realization he's apparently just had.

    March 13, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    When you have to work with the likes of lyin Ryan ,the Eddie munster look a like and Cruz the peewee Herman look a like you might as well give up till 2014 mid terms when the dems take back the house . I'm already standing in line to vote the gop trash out !!!

    March 13, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  18. Homer and Jethro

    " I don't know when I've seen such an incompanant in the White House. Well yes I do." Talk is cheap, Ray. We all remember the guy right before Obama. He spent all our money on hiring Halliburton to "fight a war." Where's that money now? Halliburton has it, we don't. Worst President EVER was George W. Bush. Look it up. And look up both "talk is cheap"(there's a picture of you next to it) and "incompetent."

    March 13, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |