Obama urges compromise on US budget

WASHINGTON, Feb 26, 2011 (AFP) - US President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Republican and Democratic lawmakers to reach a compromise on pending budget issues to avoid political gridlock and a possible federal government shutdown.

"For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

He noted that both Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate have said they believed it was important to keep the government running while they worked on a plan to reduce the budget deficit.

"Given that, I urge and expect them to find common ground so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth," the president declared. "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."

The US government could suffer a partial shutdown unless polarized lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives agree on a compromise to replace a current stopgap spending measure -- known as a "continuing resolution" or "CR" -- that expires at midnight March 4.

All sides have said that they want to avoid such an outcome and sought to pin the blame for the impasse on their political foes. But a compromise has thus far eluded congressional politicians.

A week ago, newly empowered Republicans voted to cut about $61 billion in government spending.

But Democrats in Congress and President Obama's administration, while also vowing cuts, immediately criticized the plan as dangerous in a slow economy.

In his address, Obama promised to work with members of both parties to produce what he called "a responsible budget that cuts what we can’t afford."

But he said America must be able to maintain its competitive edge in the world.

"I’m willing to consider any serious ideas to help us reduce the deficit -- no matter what party is proposing them," the president said. "But instead of cutting the investments in education and innovation we need to out-compete the rest of the world, we need a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

"We all need to be willing to sacrifice, but we can’t sacrifice our future," Obama stressed. 

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