White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama’s new-found desire to break bread with Republicans — whether at a private dinner, lunch in the White House dining room, or meetings next week on Capitol Hill — is “a strategy that is borne out of that change and circumstances.”
That doesn’t mean the administration is changing its tone.
“Because of this unfortunate decision by Republicans to impose the sequester, not to buy it down, not to delay it, we are now living in the world of the sequester and there doesn’t seem to be any indication from Republican leaders that they want to change that in the near future,” Carney said on CNN.
But with the next debt ceiling increase looming, Carney said “there’s a little room and time for constructive conversation about how we move forward in a bipartisan way to further reduce our deficit and do it in a balanced way and what the president has been trying to do is engage with lawmakers, Republican lawmakers who have shown some inclination towards or interest in compromise, along lines of balance.”
The spokesman said Obama is looking for lawmakers who believe in asking “the wealthiest and the most well-connected to give up their special tax breaks and loopholes and, you know, exemptions and deductions in order to allow for deficit reduction that doesn’t, you know, fall only to senior citizens and middle class families to bear the burden.”
He said the president found lunch with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) yesterday to be “very constructive.”
“The leaders matter and we will continue to engage with the leaders, whether they are chairman or, you know, the speaker or the minority leader in the Senate but we’re also talking to — the president is also talking to those Republicans in the Senate and the House who have expressed interest in moving forward,” Carney said.
And not just on fiscal cliffhangers, he added, but “immigration reform, steps to reduce gun violence, you know, investments that help us become more energy independent and investments that help educate our children and make us competitive economically with the — with the rest of the world.”