College Park, Md. (CNSNews.com) – In the midst of a showdown over how the government will increase the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, President Barack Obama blamed a splintered news media for lack of compromise between the parties and stressed that President Abraham Lincoln believed in compromise.
Obama spoke to a packed Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland Friday as part of a town hall meeting promoting what he called a “balanced approach” to reducing the federal deficit – which he believes includes increasing taxes on high earners along with cuts.
In response to a question, the president talked about the merits of compromise before saying the media shoulders much of the blame.
“You’ve got a media that has become much more splintered,” Obama said. “So those of you who are of a Democratic persuasion are only reading The New York Times and watching MSNBC and if you are on the right, then you’re only reading the Wall Street Journal editorial page and watching FoxNews.”
He added: “And if that’s where you get your information, just from one side, if you never even have to hear another argument, then over time you start getting more dug in into your positions.”
This week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a Cut, Cap and Balance package that would reduce spending, cap the growth of government and include a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget. On Friday morning, the Democrat-controlled Senate voted to table the House bill – effectively rejecting the proposal. Obama has said in the past he opposed the measure and would have vetoed it.
Two other plans are not in the form of legislation yet. One – a proposal by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – would give Obama sweeping power to raise the debt limit without permission from Congress through 2013. Another is a bipartisan proposal by three Republicans and three Democrats that would include spending cuts and tax hikes.
Obama, meanwhile, stressed that Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, who served during the Civil War, was a compromiser.
“I think it’s fair to say that Abraham Lincoln had convictions,” Obama said. “But he constantly was making concessions and compromises. I’ve got the Emancipation Proclamation hanging up in the Oval Office, and if you read that document -- for those of you who have not read it -- it doesn’t emancipate everybody. It actually declares the slaves who are in areas that have rebelled against the Union are free but it carves out various provinces, various parts of various states, that are still in the Union, you can keep your slaves.
“Now, think about that. ‘The Great Emancipator’ was making a compromise in the Emancipation Proclamation because he thought it was necessary in terms of advancing the goals of preserving the Union and winning the war,” Obama continues. “And then, ultimately, after the war was completed, you then had the 13th and 14th and 15th amendments.”
“So, you know what, if Abraham Lincoln could make some compromises as part of governance, then surely we can make some compromises when it comes to handling our budget,” Obama said to applause from the audience.