In an exclusive interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, President Barack Obama had this to say about Republicans who want to gut Medicare and replace it with health care "coupons" (vouchers), and cut Social Security before considering any Grand Bargain:
"Well– I understand. Which is why, at some point, I think I take myself out of this. Right now, what I’m trying to do is create an atmosphere where Democrats and Republicans can go ahead, get together, and try to get something done. And, y– you know– I think what’s important to recognize is that– we’ve already cut– $2.5– $2.7 trillion out of the deficit. If the sequester stays in, you’ve got over $3.5 trillion of deficit reduction already."
"And, so, we don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place. The question is, can we do it smarter, can we do it better? And– you know, what I’m saying to them is I am prepared to do some tough stuff. Neither side’s gonna get 100%. That’s what the American people are lookin’ for. That’s what’s gonna be good for jobs. That’s what’s gonna be good for growth."
"But ultimately, it may be that– the differences are just– too wide. It may be that ideologically, 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 Medicaid,” if that’s the position, then we’re probably not gonna be able to get a deal."
No debt crisis? But, the GOP has been screaming that the sky is falling ever since Obama took office. In fact, a recent poll by Bloomberg News asked Americans whether they believed the budget deficit was growing or shrinking, just six percent answered the question correctly. Ninety-four percent had no clue. And 62 percent actually thought it was getting bigger. So the next time you hear a poll about how Americans think it's important to shrink the budget deficit, remember that 94 percent of us don't even know that it's getting smaller.