U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about preparations for Hurricane Sandy during a briefing at the White House in Washington Monday. Forecasters say the massive storm is feared to transform into a super storm if it merges with an Arctic jet stream as it moves inland. It it expected to hit shore in southern New Jersey late Monday night. UPI/Joshua Roberts/Pool | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- President Obama says the first order of business of his second term would be reducing the deficit and bringing down the country's $16 trillion debt.
Obama also spoke about the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, during which Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other diplomatic staffers were killed, during an interview Monday on MSN's "Morning Joe."
"Anytime a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans who were serving our country get killed, we have to figure out what happened and fix it," Obama said. "But I do take offense with some suggestion that in any way, we haven't tried to make sure that the American people knew as the information was coming in what we believed."
He also said he would bring accountability to the government if he found the response was mishandled.
"If we find out we that there was a big breakdown, and somebody didn't do their job, they'll be held accountable," he said. "Ultimately, as commander-in-chief, I'm responsible, and I don't shy away from that responsibility. My No. 1 responsibility is to go after the folks who did this, and we're going to make sure we get them."
Obama also discussed his plan manage the debt and deficit should he win re-election Nov. 6.
"There's no doubt that our first order of business is going to be to get our deficits and debt under control," he said. "There's a forcing mechanism. You know, [President George W. Bush's] tax cuts end at the end of the year. We know that we've got the sequester looming."
The sequester -- which the president said during the final debate last week "will not happen" -- would implement cuts of $109 billion divided equally between defense and non-defense spending.
Obama compared the trigger mechanism to "taking a machete to something, as opposed to a scalpel," but said it would push Congress toward compromise.
Besides repeating his preference of raising revenue by allowing the lower Bush tax rates on the wealthiest taxpayers to expire, Obama said that further healthcare reform, specifically with Medicaid and Medicare, is vital to erasing the deficit.
Obama also suggested on "Morning Joe" that once the debt is handled, he would be in a better position to shrink government and create jobs through infrastructure projects.
"I truly believe that if we can get the deficit and debt issue solved, which I believe we can get done in the lame duck, or in the immediate aftermath, of the lame duck, then that clears away a lot of the ideological underbrush," he said.