By Amie Parnes - 03/12/13 11:08 PM EDT
President Obama said Tuesday that he's not setting out to "chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance" over the next decade but rather to grow the economy.
"My goal is not to chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance," Obama said. "My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to work, and if we do that we are going to be bringing in more revenue."
Obama said he opposed Ryan's plan because it "slashes deeply" at Medicaid and other programs that boost the middle class, a platform he campaigned on during the 2012 presidential election.
"We're not going to balance the budget in ten years because if you look at what Paul Ryan does to balance the budget, it means that you have to voucherize Medicare, you have to slash deeply into programs like Medicaid, you've essentially got to -- either tax middle class families a lot higher than you currently are, or you can't lower rates the way he's promised. So it's really...a reprise of the same legislation that he's put before."
Obama said he would like to control spending and have a "smart entitlement package" to create what he calls a balanced proposal. "But it is not balance to, on the backs of the poor, the elderly, students who need loans, families that have disabled kids...that is not the right way to balance." The president -- who has been accused of being aloof and distant -- has been holding meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to attempt to reach a middle ground not only on budget-related issues but on large proposals including comprehensive immigration reform and gun control.
On Tuesday, he met with Senate Democrats, where he faced criticism for seeking to give too much on entitlements. On Wednesday, he will meet with House Republicans and on Thursday, he will have a double header of sorts meeting with House Democrats and Senate Republicans.