Obama sends message to Democratic progressives: they need to care about deficit, debt

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WASHINGTON–President Obama said Friday he has a “selling job” to persuade Democratic progressives to be as concerned about debts and deficits as they are on potential spending cuts.

Obama’s comments came during a press conference–his third in two weeks–as negotiations continue with Republicans over deficit reduction, as an Aug. 2 default deadline looms.

In Chicago, members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee delivered 200,000 petitions to Obama’s Prudential Building headquarters, threatening to cut off donations and volunteer hours if Obama puts Medicare and Social Security on the table. Ann Marie Habershaw, the COO of the Obama Campaign met the small group in the Prudential Building lobby to receive the petitions.

Obama said at his Friday press conference that he is open to a variety of changes in the programs–such as raising the retirement age–but people who currently get government checks should not be impacted.

OBAM’S MESSAGE TO PROGRESSIVES: “And I have to say this is tough on the Democratic side, too. Some of the things that I’ve talked about and said I would be willing to see happen, there are some Democrats who think that’s absolutely unacceptable. And so that’s where I’d have a selling job, Chuck, is trying to sell some of our party that if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you’re a conservative. And the reason is because if the only thing we’re talking about over the next year, two years, five years, is debt and deficits, then it’s very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so that our kids are trained, how do we actually rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure.”

OBAMA 2012 CAMPAIGN STATEMENT ABOUT THE PCCC PETITIONS: “Americans elected the President in 2008 to take on the big challenges facing our country, and he’s engaged in an effort to do just that, promoting a balanced approach to reduce the deficit and promote economic growth that protects the middle class and seniors. That’s why he has put forward a framework to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid in the long run, and he supports finding bipartisan solutions to strengthen Social Security for future generations. This contrasts with the plan the Republican candidates have embraced that extends tax cuts for the richest Americans and provides special deals for corporate jet owners and oil and gas companies, funded at the expense of the middle class and by ending Medicare as we know it.”

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