Despite some nasty campaign rhetoric, President Obama said in an interview with Time magazine published Thursday that his reelection could actually ease tensions with congressional Republicans, a process he described as a “popping of the blister.”
“Given how stark the choices are, I do think that should I be fortunate enough to have another four years, the American people will have made a decision,” Obama said. “And hopefully, that will impact how Republicans think about these problems.”
A major point of disagreement is how to shrink the annual budget deficit. At its most basic level, the argument is this: Republicans—including presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan—contend the budget can eventually be balanced by reducing government spending, largely by reforming entitlement programs. No tax hikes are needed, the GOP argues. In fact, they say it is possible to cut income tax rates across the board and still achieve balance.
Democrats, led by the president, say they are willing to work on entitlement reform but that it would be irresponsible to balance the budget through spending cuts alone. Taxes must go up on wealthy Americans, Obama says, in order to spare poorer citizens hardship.
“I’m prepared to look at reforms in Medicaid,” Obama said in the Time interview. “I’m prepared to look at smart reforms on Medicare. But there are things I won’t do, and this is part of the debate we’re having in this election.”
“If you’re willing to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires,” he added, “then you can make modest reforms on entitlements, reduce some additional discretionary spending, achieve deficit reduction and still preserve Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid in ways that people can count on. The only reason that you would have to go further than that is if there’s no revenue whatsoever. And that’s a major argument that we’re having with the Republicans.”
Obama said he hopes to work well with Republicans in a second term. But, he added, “where Republicans refuse to cooperate on things that I know are good for the American people, I will continue to look for ways to do it administratively and work around Congress.”