By Steven T. Dennis
President Barack Obama told House Republicans Wednesday that balancing the budget is not his top priority, lawmakers leaving the meeting between the president and the GOP conference early told reporters.
Rep. Mike D. Rogers of Alabama reported that the president diplomatically said “no” to a balanced budget, explaining that eliminating the deficit is not his priority. Instead, the president said he is worried that the deep spending cuts that would be required to balance the budget would slow the nation’s economic recovery.
Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, who also left the meeting early, dismissed Obama’s remarks as nothing new and characterized the president as unwilling to balance the budget.
Obama’s remarks were similar to what he said in an interview with ABC this week, in which he said House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s budget only balances because he turns Medicare into “voucher program” and makes other cuts that would harm ordinary Americans.
The president did get a standing ovation at the kickoff of the meeting and a welcome from Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, Rogers said, out of respect for the office.