With congressional gridlock unlikely to change in this year's elections, both President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spent the weekend saying they are willing to compromise to get budget deals done — though both drew bright lines they said they won't cross.
Mr. Obama said that he already is giving on spending cuts, and said that to budge any further, he will demand that Republicans agree to tax increases. He said he's willing to accept $10 in spending cuts for every $4 in tax increases the GOP allows.
And he said Mr. Romney has refused to agree to any tax increases, despite the recommendations of most budget analysts, including the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission that said the government needs to take in more money if the deficit is going to be closed.
"That's part of what this election's about. Gov. Romney said he wouldn't take a deal with $10 of spending cuts for $1 of revenue increases," Mr. Obama told CBS News in an interview that aired Sunday.
Mr. Romney vowed that he would be satisfied with being a one-term president if it meant he could cut a deal — even one unpopular with some Republicans — that would put the country on sounder fiscal and economic footing.
"I could not care less about my political prospects. I want to become president of the United States to get this country on the right track again," Mr. Romney said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Still, Mr. Romney said he cannot balance the budget in a single term, saying the challenge of balancing economic expansion and deficit reduction will take two terms to accomplish.
He also drew several lines on the question of tax revenue, saying that while he will lower income tax rates on high earners, he will also cut loopholes and deductions they use. That means a simpler tax system, though the wealthy will still pay the same amount overall, he said.
"Everything I want to do with regards to taxation follows simple principles, which is bring our rates down to encourage growth, keep revenue up by limiting deductions and exemptions and make sure we don't put any bigger burden on middle-income people," he said.
Campaigning in Florida, Mr. Obama said Mr. Romney's math doesn't add up.
"It was like, two plus one equals five," he said. "They couldn't answer questions about how they'd pay for $5 trillion in new tax cuts and $2 trillion in new defense spending without raising taxes on the middle class."
Indeed, speaking in separate interviews with the Sunday political talk shows, Mr. Romney and his vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, wouldn't say which loopholes they would target to close the gap in their numbers.
But they said the ones they would target would be those the wealthy take advantage of.
Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney are coming out of their conventions and the race still is tight, though early polls suggest Mr. Obama maintains a slight lead both in the national vote and in most of the critical battleground states.
On Friday, Mr. Romney announced a series of new ads running in eight states — tapping into his general-election campaign funds, which is one area where he is expected to be able to go toe-to-toe with the Obama campaign.
• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.
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