Obama to GOP: My priority is economy, not balanced budget

by Molly K. Hooper, The Hill
March 14, 2013

President Obama said his priority is to prevent an economic slowdown — not to produce a 10-year balanced budget — during a closed-door meeting Wednesday with House Republicans.

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) asked Obama about the budget, questioning whether he would “commit to a 10-year balanced budget” according to Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.).

“The president tactfully said ‘That’s not my priority, my priority is not slowing the recovery down and the long-term economic health of the country,’ ” Rogers said.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday offered a 10-year budget for House Republicans that would reduce spending by $5.7 trillion and balance the budget in 10 years. Republicans have criticized the White House for not yet releasing a budget this year.
About the only news that Obama brought to House Republicans, multiple lawmakers said, was the announcement that there was a new pope.

While billions outside the closed-door meeting learned through television about the historic selection, House Republicans learned from the president.

“We have white smoke,” Obama told them more than halfway through the meeting, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said.

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