Obama weighs in on budget battle

WASHINGTON, April 2 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama spoke separately with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Saturday, urging them to reach a budget deal.

The president weighed in as the federal government lurches toward a shutdown if Congress can't come to terms on another funding resolution by Friday to keep it going through the remainder of the current fiscal year in September.


"The president made clear that we all understand the need to cut spending, and highlighted the progress that has been made to agree to all work off the same number -- $73 billion in spending cuts in this year alone," the White House said in a statement issued after Obama's phone conversations with the two legislative leaders.

"The president said that he has instructed his team to continue to work hard over the weekend with the appropriators to help reach resolution on the composition of those cuts, and reiterated our opposition to cuts that will undermine our economic growth, job creation, and our ability to win the future.

"He also made clear that we continue to oppose efforts to use this process to further an ideological agenda on issues that have nothing at all to do with reducing spending or reducing the deficit."


The White House added the president "urged both sides to reach a final solution and avoid a government shutdown that would be harmful to our economic recovery."

Boehner, R-Ohio, has said a government shutdown would cost more than it would save, officials said.

While there has been talk that agreement had been near on $33 billion in cuts, some GOP lawmakers have been holding out for $61 billion.

"We can't speculate on hypotheticals -- we've been clear about that from the outset," The Hill quoted freshman Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., as saying "What we'd like to see is some action from Mr Reid to bring something to the floor so we can work with him."

Crawford said $61 billion in cuts is a reasonable figure and "the amount we're shooting for."

"We can't speculate on deals and negotiations," he added.

Veteran Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun vowed to oppose any budget proposal with less than the $61 billion in cuts approved by the House last month.

"Anything less than the $61 billion is an insult to the gravity of the problem," Broun said at a news conference Friday. "I will not vote for anything less than $61 billion in cuts."


Some economists estimate cutting $61 billion would eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs in the next two years and stall the economic recovery.

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