WASHINGTON — With America's global credit standing suddenly in question, President Barack Obama insisted Tuesday that Washington has the political will to slash the massive U.S. debt despite differences with Republicans about how to do it.
Obama spoke hopefully of compromise with GOP lawmakers, yet still used a campaign-style town hall event to accuse the Republicans of offering a bleak future for the poor, young and elderly with their proposals.
Republicans didn't sound optimistic about compromise.
House Speaker John Boehner announced Tuesday that he had picked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to work with a White House commission on cutting spending. But in doing so, Boehner said, "The American people understand we can't keep spending money we don't have. The only ones who don't are the Democrats running Washington."
More upbeat, Obama said, "Here's the good news: I believe that Democrats and Republicans can come together to get this done." Speaking at Northern Virginia Community College outside Washington, he said: "There will be those who say that we're too divided, that partisanship is too stark. But I'm optimistic."
On Monday, Standard and Poor's, a key credit rating agency, lowered its outlook for the government's fiscal health to "negative." The annual government deficit is projected to be $1.6 trillion this year.