White House: Obama “wasn't second” on deficit reduction

White House spokesman Jay Carney Monday deflected Republican criticism that President Obama's decision to give a speech on deficit reduction was a political calculation, saying the address would have occurred regardless of the spending fights that nearly led to a government shutdown last weekend.

“Leadership is not about laying out positions to score political points,” Carney said, later adding, “He would have under any circumstances. … He was committed to addressing our deficit, our debt, this year — this spring.”

Republicans have assailed the president for not including entitlement reductions in his budget for next fiscal year, saying they were forced to lay out a serious financial blueprint because Obama was unwilling to take the political hit that would come with reducing benefits for Americans.

While Carney refused to preview the president's speech, he made a not-so-veiled jab at Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal, which would essentially overhaul Medicare and Medicaid.

“You can't simply slash expenditures, lower taxes and call it a fair deal,” he said, adding that Obama has demonstrated “ample leadership” on deficit reduction.

And no, Carney did not provide the location or time for Wednesday's speech. Keep you TiVos on alert.


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