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Obama demands Congress produce `serious’ plan for debt


Washington: President Barack Obama said Friday that Congress has very little time left to produce a “serious” plan to reduce the deficit and clear the way toward raising the US debt limit before Aug 2.

“We should not even be this close to a deadline on this issue. This should have been taken care of earlier,” he said at a White House press conference.

“If they show me a serious plan, I’m ready to move, even if it requires some tough sacrifices on my part,” Obama said, referring to congressional Republicans, who have made increasing the debt limit contingent on sharply reducing the budget deficit, but without increases in revenue.

Congressional leaders from both parties were at the White House every day this week for negotiations with the president on the issue.

The talks adjourned Thursday, when Obama gave the leaders 24-36 hours to confer with their colleagues in pursuit of a compromise.

If both sides are willing to put politics aside, the president said Friday, they have an “opportunity to stabilise America’s finances” for the next decade and even beyond.

“I am still pushing for us to achieve a big deal,” Obama said, repeating his preference for a plan that would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

That proposal also contemplates changes to entitlement programmes such as Social Security, an idea opposed by some of the president’s fellow Democrats.

While emphasising his desire for a “big” accord, Obama welcomed talk from Republicans about the need to raise the debt limit even if agreement on deficit-cutting remains elusive.

“I’m glad the congressional leaders want to raise the debt ceiling, but I think the American people expect more,” the president said.