The Washington Times - October 29, 2012, 05:37AM

President Obama said in an interview aired Monday that his first priority if re-elected would be to push for passage of a debt-reduction plan to cut spending and raise taxes on the nation’s highest earners.

Appearing in a taped interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Mr. Obama predicted that Congress can approve a plan to reduce the country’s debt and deficit as soon as during a lame-duck session later this year, or in the early months of next year.

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“If we won, then I believe that’s a mandate for doing it in a balanced way,” he said in the interview, which was taped Saturday at a campaign stop in Nashua, N.H. “We can do some more cuts, we could look at how we deal with the health care costs in particular under Medicaid and Medicare in a serious way, but we are also going to need some revenue.”

The president also reflected on the close of his final political campaign and last month’s consulate attack in Libya, in addition to laying out some of his goals for a possible second term.

He said that cutting the debt and deficit would go a long way toward clearing the “ideological underbrush” between Democrats and Republicans, and that an agreement between the parties also would them an impetus to move on to other pressing issues, including national infrastructure improvement and immigration reform.

“If we get [the debt and deficit] done, then immigration reform, I think, is there to get done,” he said. “And I think [the Republican Party] is going to need to get it done because you can’t continue to alienate the fastest-growing segment of the country. And it’s the right thing to do.”