But he also said that his plan lines up with the GOP’s goal of cutting government, saying he has put forward “spending cuts” of $1 trillion.
GOP legislators and supporters have argued for decades that they want to limit the scale and ambition of government, which they believe becomes harmful to Americans once it goes beyond core tasks.
Even as he claimed to seeking a fair compromise, Obama characterized the GOP plan as hurtful to Americans.
“At some point, you are hurting people in order to give another advantage to folks who don’t need help,” he said.
The GOP’s willingness to “put our economy at risk because you couldn’t bridge that gap [in negotiations], doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Obama also hinted that the GOP’s opposition to his plans may be powered by a personal dislike of Obama.
“They will be able to claim that they have worked with me over the last two years to reduce the deficit more than any other deficit reduction package; that we will have stabilized it for 10 years,” he said. “That is a significant achievement for them. They should be proud of it. But they keep on finding ways to say no as opposed to finding ways to say yes.”
“And I don’t know how much of that just has to do with, you know, it is very hard for them to say yes to me,” he said.
“I’m often reminded when I speak to the Republican leadership that the majority of their caucus’s membership come from districts that I lost,” he said. “And, you know, cooperating with me may make them vulnerable.”
“I’m not try to rub their face in anything,” he said, shortly after he touted the GOP’s agreement to submit to his demand that they they accept a increase in tax rates for some Americans.
“But goodness, if this past week has done anything, it should give us perspective,” he said in one of three references to the Newtown, Conn., massacre of 20 children and six unarmed teachers.
After “one of the worst tragedies in our memory, the country deserves folks to be willing to compromise on behalf of the greater good and not tangle themselves up in a whole bunch of ideological positions that don’t make much sense,” he said.
A compromise would “allow ourselves time to focus on things like preventing the tragedy in Newtown from happening again,” he claimed.
Of GOP legislators, he said, “At some point, you know, they’ve got to take me out of it and think about their voters and think about what’s best for the country,” he claimed.
“The campaign is over, let’s see if we can do what right for the country, at least for the next month,” he said.