Deval Patrick says President Obama has been a leader on deficit reduction

Governor Deval Patrick defended President Obama Sunday against charges that he has failed to lead lawmakers toward a bipartisan plan to reduce the federal deficit ahead of the so-called “fiscal cliff” looming at the end of the year.

If Republicans and Democrats do not reach a compromise, a set of default cuts, known as sequesters, will take effect in January. The sequesters total $1.2 trillion over the next decade and include $500 billion from a defense budget that is already set to shrink by $487 billion.

The sequesters were established under the Budget Control Act, the debt ceiling compromise reached last summer, as a fallback plan in case a 12-member congressional supercommittee failed to strike a deal on deficit reduction. The supercommittee did fail, so sequestration looms as a real possibility.

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“When I hear about issues of leadership, remember, it was the president who reached a deal with [House Speaker John] Boehner more than a year ago now,” Patrick said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Speaker Boehner couldn’t sell it with his Tea Party caucus back in the House.”

“I don’t think anybody wants this to happen,” Patrick added, “but, remember, we have sequestration because the Republican Congress wouldn’t reach out, reach back to the president on a balanced approach, which was a combination of cuts and tax increases.”

Patrick appeared on CNN with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican, who acknowledged “it’s a bipartisan failure that we got to the point where we’re at, where we’re running up this much national debt.”

But McDonnell contended Obama has not done enough to avoid sequestration.

“The president needs to take leadership and say, ‘Let’s get back and fix this now to create certainty,’ ” he said.