During his press conference today on the debt ceiling debate, President Obama dropped a whopper. According to him, 80 percent of American’s are “sold” on his debt deal:
“The bottom line is that this is not an issue of salesmanship to the American people, the American people are sold. The American people are sold, I just want to repeat this. … You have 80% of the American people who support a balanced approach. 80% of the American people support an approach that includes revenues and includes cuts. So, the notion that somehow the American people aren’t sold is not the problem. The problem is members of Congress are dug in ideologically into various positions because they boxed themselves in with previous statements. And, so this is not a matter of the American people knowing what the right thing to do is, it’s a matter of Congress doing the right thing and reflecting the will of the American people. And if we do that, we will have solved this problem.”
The exchange happened between Obama and NBC’s Chuck Todd, and resulted in a visibly frustrated Obama seemingly scolding the NBC reporter for challenging the notion of support:
It’s unclear where exactly he’s getting his 80 percent figure from.
Throughout the news conference, Obama stuck to his position that a debt deal must include raising “revenues” — his euphemistic term for increasing taxes. According to him, any proposal that doesn’t include that isn’t serious:
That certainly is not what Republicans have in mind, which may be why the New York Times characterized the press conference as Obama digging in his heels rather than reaching out an olive branch:
But Mr. Obama did not appear to view the news conference as a fresh opportunity to convince Republican lawmakers on a specific deal.
Rather, the president appeared to be preparing for an ongoing debate on the issues of debt, spending and taxes during next year’s presidential election.
“What the American people are paying attention to is who seems to be trying to get something done,” he told reporters.
That message is certain to be a key part of Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign as he presents himself as the adult in a room full of squabbling children. Aides hope his efforts to reach a deal during the debt debate — even if unsuccessful — will reinforce that image.
“There may be some movement, some possibility, some interest, to just get something more than just the bare minimum. We have enough time to do a big deal,” he said. “But in order to do that, we have got to get started now.”
Lawmakers have until August 2 to reach a deal on the the debt ceiling.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza takes a closer look at the polling numbers:
A Gallup poll this week showed that just 20 percent of Americans – including 26 percent of Republicans – say the deficit should be reduced solely through spending cuts. This leaves 80 percent of all Americans who don’t rule out tax increases. (Important note: Some were undecided and 4 percent said only to use tax increases, so the actual number who support using both spending cuts and tax increases is actually less than 70 percent.)
Quinnipiac University put those ruling out tax increases at 25 percent overall, including 48 percent of Republicans — much worse numbers for Obama’s argument…
Nearly one-third of people (30 percent) say they want a deal that is mostly spending cuts with some tax increases, while another 32 percent say the plan should be balanced equally between tax increases and spending cuts. Only 11 percent say the deal should be mostly or solely tax increases.
So saying that 80 percent of Americans support a “balanced approach” may be over-stating things. The Gallup poll actually shows 50 percent of Americans say either no tax increases or that tax increases should be the smaller part of the package.
This is a breaking story. Updates will be added.