Entries in Gene Sperling (5)


Sen. Kelly Ayotte Keeps Door Open for ‘Big Agreement’ on Budget

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- While the White House and Congress failed to reach an agreement to avoid automatic spending cuts that began taking effect on March 1, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said she is still open to the idea of a “big agreement” to address the country’s long-term fiscal challenges, as long as it addresses both tax reform and entitlement reform.

“If we’re going to increase revenue again it’s got to go to the debt with real entitlement reform and real tax reform, where you actually lower rates,” Ayotte said Sunday morning on This Week.  ”Absolutely I think we need to do a big agreement for the country because we haven’t dealt with the fundamental drivers of our debt.”

When asked if she would accept a larger agreement that raises tax revenues, Ayotte said she would not agree to tax increases that “increase more government,” but only if they are applied to reducing the debt.

“I am willing to say if we take the form of lowering rates, so that we can focus on economic growth, and then we take a portion of that and apply it to the debt with real entitlement reform – but it has to go to the debt,” Ayotte said. “This sequester has to be dealt with within existing spending and alternative cuts, and we need real entitlement reform and real tax reform. That’s what we need for the country if we’re going to drive down our debt and also be focused on economic growth.”

White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said the process of the automatic budget cuts is “not going to hurt as much on day one,” but he said he believes the “slow grind” of the cuts’ impact may force sides back to the bargaining table for a larger agreement.

“My belief is that as this pain starts to gradually spread to communities affected by military spending, to children who need mental health services, to people who care about our border security, I believe that more Republican colleagues who are concerned about this harm to their constituents will choose bipartisan compromise on revenue raising tax reform with serious entitlement reform,” Sperling said.

Sperling called unwillingness by Republicans to avoid the automatic budget cuts by closing tax loopholes and deductions “an unreasonable position,” and said the failure to reach a deal to avert the spending cuts this week was “not a win for anyone.”

“This is not a win for Republicans,” Sperling said. “Republicans are supposed to be for stronger national defense. This cuts our military preparedness dramatically. They’re supposed to be for border security. These sequester cuts will end up meaning enough reduction in hours that would be the equivalent of 5,000 border patrol agents being cut. They’re supposed to be long-term entitlement reform. This does no long-term entitlement reform.”

Sperling rejected the idea that the administration could have softened the impact of the automatic spending cuts by creating more flexibility on what areas could be cut from each government agency that will be impacted by the $85 billion automatic spending cuts.

“There is no way that you can move the deck chairs around in a way that will not cost our economy, as CBO projects, 750,000 jobs,” Sperling said. “When you have those type of harsh spending cuts in such a short concentrated period of time, it’s like saying to somebody you can cut off three of your fingers, but you can have the flexibility to choose which ones you want to cut off.”

But Ayotte countered that alternative spending cuts should have been found to reduce the impact on the country.

“Why can’t both sides work together to do this in a more sensible way?” Ayotte asked. “There’s a whole host of ideas of how we could cut spending in a more responsible way that doesn’t undermine our national security.”


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Gene Sperling: Bob Woodward Is a 'Legend'

ABC/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- White House economic adviser Gene Sperling brushed off his reported spat with Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward Sunday morning on This Week.

“All I can say, George, is that Bob Woodward is a legend,” Sperling told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. “I hope that him and I can put this behind us.”

The controversy began after a heated phone call between the pair over a Woodward piece about the sequestration debate, in which he said President Obama was “moving the goal posts” by asking for more revenue. Sperling then emailed Woodward an apology – but also included the phrase “As a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.” On CNN, Woodward said that the phrase made him “very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters you’re going to regret doing something you believe in."

Sperling defended his email exchange with Woodward to Stephanopoulos.

“I’ve known Bob Woodward for twenty years. We’ve had a very friendly and respectful relationship. I think virtually everybody who has looked at my email to him and his reply to me thought those emails reflected that degree of respect and politeness,” Sperling said.

Sperling said he has not spoken with Woodward since their communication became a national story.

“I havent talked to him yet, but I hope to,” Sperling said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Boehner on Two-Month Tax Cut Bill: 'Just Kicking Can Down the Road'

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A day after the Senate voted 89-10 to extend the payroll tax cut by two months, Republicans in the House are signaling their displeasure with the short-term fix, saying action should have been taken to resolve the issue for the whole year.

“I believe that two months is just kicking the can down the road.  The American people are tired of that, frankly I’m tired of it,” House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.

But it’s not just the speaker who has problems with supporting the temporary extension, which the House is expected to take up on Monday.  Sen. Roy Blunt, who was just elected to the Republican leadership in the Senate, said that even though he voted to pass the two-month extension, the House is right to want a year-long extension.

“I had a couple of calls from some of my buddies in the House in the morning saying we don’t want to do this, we’d like the one-year extension,” Blunt said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Still some, like President Obama’s lead economic adviser Gene Sperling, are optimistic that Congress will close the deal before Christmas.

“I think that it is very unlikely that the House would disrupt this compromise -- overwhelming compromise -- six days before Christmas,” Sperling said.

Failing to pass the tax cut would likely cost the average American family more than $1,000 over the course of the year.  Some economists say the tax cut will encourage spending and provide a vital boost to the economy, although other economists and several lawmakers dispute this.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Economic Advisor: S&P's Downgrade Was 'Reckless'

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The public blame game over Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the United States’ credit rating continued to rage Monday.

It was an expensive day on Wall Street, as $2.3 trillion was lost in stock market wealth by the sound of the closing bell.  As President Obama addressed the nation for the first time since the downgrade was announced on Aug. 5, the Dow Jones industrial average dipped below the 11,000 mark.

In an exclusive interview with ABC's Nightline, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling ripped apart the S&P’s report, calling it “irresponsible” and “reckless,” and claimed the rating agency rushed through its assessment.

“[S&P] simply changed their press release,” Sperling said.  “They simply decided on the spot that they had a different lead rationale for why they were going to downgrade the United States.  That was very irresponsible thing to do and a bit reckless to do at a moment of such fragility in the markets.”

That “fragility” certainly proved true on Monday, when S&P also announced it was downgrading the government-backed mortgage debt.  As a result, the stock market faced its biggest plunge since 2008.  The Dow closed down 634 points, the S&P 500 lost 79 points and the Nasdaq ended 174 points lower, dropping almost 7 percent.

Sperling said Obama’s economic team’s biggest worry was that the downgrade would have caused “very negative consequences” had the U.S. faced default.  Echoing the president’s remarks earlier Monday, Sperling urged the need for bipartisanship in the debt reduction deal later this year.

“We don’t agree that [S&P's] political analysis and certainly their flawed economic and budget analysis justify the downgrade in any way,” Sperling said.  “But we don’t disagree with what is a very obvious point too … that we need to be able to overcome the degree of line drawing, the degree of  my-way-or-the-highway that is keeping us as a country, as a government, from coming together on the type of bipartisan agreement we need right now to get our deficit down and on the right path.”

S&P continued to stand by its decision to downgrade the nation from an AAA credit rating to AA+, saying it based its decision on the nasty political fight between the Obama administration and Congress over raising the debt ceiling.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Taps Gene Sperling for Top Economic Advisor

Photo Courtesy - Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images(LANDOVER, Md.) -- President Obama will name Treasury Department official Gene Sperling, a veteran economist and policymaker, to head the National Economic Council, a post he previously held in the Clinton administration.

Sperling, 52, assumes the reins as the latest jobs report puts the nation's unemployment rate at 9.4 percent and notes one in five Americans are underemployed.

The latest round of appointments comes as part of a broader retooling inside the White House, which faces new political realities in Washington and a looming re-election campaign in 2012.

Obama appointed former Commerce secretary Bill Daley as White House chief of staff Thursday, a move widely viewed as a centrist pick who will work well with Republicans.

The president will now focus on finding a replacement for outgoing press secretary Robert Gibbs. Whoever Obama picks will help set the tone for negotiations with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and chart a course for advancing the administration's agenda.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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