WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — President Barack Obama spoke with the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council meeting of nearly 100 chief executives, reiterating that his administration is not “lavishly spending,” and the debt ceiling is more of just a “loaded gun” for politics.
Obama, speaking via the WSJ live blog from Washington on Tuesday, immediately addressed the recent government shutdown and the faulty rollout of the Affordable Care Act, saying concerns over these programs were “legitimate.” He faulted both Republicans and Democrats in Congress for not working together, and said of the Obamacare rollout, “We’re getting it fixed, but it would’ve been better to do it on the front end.”
President Obama noted the country’s shrinking federal deficit, while also arguing for spending on programs that invest in research and education. He also pointed out that CEOs would have to come to terms with the closing of tax loopholes for Democrats and Republicans to move forward on corporate tax reform.
The president stated that his administration has been reducing short-term deficits, and hoped that Congress could renew the “grand bargain” to reduce long-term deficits and shore up entitlement programs.
“We are not lavishly spending on a whole bunch of social programs out there,” he said.
The government is currently operating on a stopgap spending solution that will expire on Jan. 15 and is the result of Congress’ inability to find a deal before Oct. 1, which led to the 16-day partial government shutdown.
Obama said he does not expect another shutdown.
“We’re probably better off with a system in which that threat is not there on a perpetual basis,” said Obama. He said the way the political system is set up, the issue remains a “loaded gun.”
In 2006, then-Senator Obama voted against raising the debt limiting, telling the Senate: “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. … I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”
The president said that gap between Democrats and Republicans “should be bridgeable,” and that both parties should look past the next elections and “just focus on governing.”