President Obama said Saturday he has already met Republicans halfway in the on-going budget dispute and is "prepared to do more" in an effort to responsibly cut spending and avoid a government shutdown later this month.
A temporary two-budget that kept the trains running expires on March 18 as Republicans and Democrats wrangle over how much to trim from a longer-term plan that would fund government operations through Sept. 30, the close of the 2011 fiscal year.
"We've got to step up our game," Obama said in his weekly address. "We can't do business two weeks at a time... We've got to keep that momentum going."
The Republican majority in the House and most GOP senators want to reduce government outlays by $61 billion during the seven remaining months on the fiscal calender. The Obama administration countered with an offer to cut $6.5 billion on top of $4 billion included in the current stopgap budget. That leaves a $50 billion void for the Senate to cover in the next two weeks.
"We need to come together around a long-term budget that sacrifices wasteful spending without sacrificing the job-creating investments in our future... we'll only finish the job together by sitting at the same table, working out our differences and finding common ground," the president said. "... And it can't be just about how much we cut. It's got to be about how we cut and how we invest. We've got to be smart about it."
The president offered little in the way of specifics. The details, presumably, will emerge behind closed doors in negotiations between congressional leaders and Obama's team led by Vice President Biden.
But Republicans, in their weekly remarks, spoke harshly of Obama's approach. His new budget, proposed for 2012, "doesn't match his words" about government living within its means, said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) "It continues out of control spending, it adds to our $14 trillion debt and it adds to the uncertainty that makes it harder to create jobs," Black said.
Obama delivered his statement from a high school classroom in Miami during a visit to Florida Friday. Watch it here.
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