Obama urges budget consensus to prevent 'gridlock'

Image caption,
Mr Obama said agreement would not be easy

US President Barack Obama has urged Congress to find "common ground" over the budget to prevent a government shutdown.

In his weekly radio address, Mr Obama said economic recovery would stall if lawmakers could not agree on spending cuts before a 4 March deadline.

Republicans and Democrats are trying to work out a compromise short-term budget as an interim measure.

The 2012 budget proposes a $1.1tn (£690bn) deficit cut over a decade.

Although Mr Obama is empowered to propose a budget, it is up to the US Congress to pass it into law and then to distribute the funds.

"Next week, Congress will focus on a short-term budget. For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail," Mr Obama said in his weekly radio address.

"I urge and expect them to find common ground so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth," Mr Obama said.

"It won't be easy. There will be plenty of debates and disagreements and neither party will get everything it wants. Both sides will have to compromise," he added.

'Interim plan'

The president unveiled his proposed budget earlier this month and described the proposal as a "down payment" on future cuts to the US budget deficit.

He said the US had to live within its means and called for some reductions, but said "we can't sacrifice our future" with drastic cuts.

But Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, do not think the cuts go far enough in tackling the deficit.

Republicans put together an interim proposal to cut $4bn (£2.5bn) in federal spending on Friday as part of legislation to keep the government operating for two weeks past the deadline.

House Democrats have reportedly responded positively to the plan, according to CNN.

Neither party wants to be blamed for a government shutdown, but the Republicans say any plan will have to include cuts.

"Our goal as Republicans is to make sensible reductions in this spending and create a better environment for job growth, not to shut down the government," Senator Rob Portman said in his party's weekly address.

On Friday, fourth quarter US growth was revised down to a 2.8% annual rate from the 3.2% previously estimated.

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