President Obama today indicated his support for the efforts of the revived "Gang of Six" to craft a $3.7 trillion plan to cut the deficit and raise the debt ceiling. But just in case that deal falls through, Obama said in a statement to reporters Tuesday that he also believes the proposal put forward by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell should move forward as a backup.
But despite the need for a fallback, Obama seemed encouraged that there had been "some progress" in the "11th hour" of the debt talks, even as House Speaker John Boehner is trying to rally House Republicans to vote for a different deficit plan, called "cut, cap, and balance," that has little chance to pass the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. Politico's John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman report that Boehner is encouraging GOP unity on the vote in order to shrink Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's "hand at the negotiating table with Obama and Senate leaders, while at the same boosting their own leverage in cutting a final debt deal."
Obama noted that he, "a Democratic president," is prepared to make cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in order to "strengthen both systems." He said that the Gang of Six had come up with a plan that was a "balanced approach." The president continued, "We now have a big group of senators who agree with that balanced approach... We have the American people who agree with that balanced approach." Thus, he hopes Boehner, Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will meet Wednesday "ready to talk... and get down to the hard business."