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Obama: Government shutdown would jeopardize recovery

President Obama pauses while speaking during his visit to a UPS shipping facility in Landover, Md., April 1, 2011.
AP Photo
President Obama pauses while speaking during his visit to a UPS shipping facility in Landover, Md., April 1, 2011.
AP Photo

Tick tock, tick tock. With the possibility of a government shutdown looming large next Friday, President Obama said it would be "the height of irresponsibility" if Congress allowed 'the same old Washington politics" to keep it from completing action on a budget bill before then.

"If these budget negotiations break down, we could end up having to shut down the government, just at a time when the economy is starting to recover," said the president.

On a day he was trumpeting the latest drop of the national unemployment rate to 8.8 percent, down from 10.2 percent a year ago, Mr. Obama said a government shutdown could "jeopardize the economic recovery."

The president thinks a budget deal is "within reach" but says Democrats and Republicans are "going to have to compromise."

In remarks to workers this morning at a UPS facility in Landover, MD., Mr. Obama said there are details and differences still to be worked out in a budget deal. And he said "neither Democrats nor Republicans should get 100 percent of what they want."

The focus is on coming up with $33 billion in spending cuts in the budget for the current fiscal year, which has just six months remaining. But House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH., says there's no agreement on a number.

He says Republicans are fighting for "the largest spending cuts that we can get."

Mr. Obama says "we've got to stop spending on things that we don't need." And though he calls for compromise, he is adamant that some programs are too important to be cut, citing education, infrastructure and clean energy initiatives.

"We've got to make those investments otherwise we're going to fall behind other countries," he said.

Worried that all sides in the budget battle will dig in, he said the American people "don't want us to go to our respective corners and then just have the same battles we've been having for decades now."

"It can't be 'my way or the highway,'" he said.

Both sides are also calculating who the public would blame most for the inconveniences inflicted by a government shutdown, should it come to that. Boehner has said Democrats want a shutdown because they think Republicans would face more of the people's wrath.

Both sides also read the tea leaves that show Americans think government spending is way out of control and this year's deficit of $1.6-trillion is excessive to the max.

"It's time to agree on a budget that makes us live within our means while still investing in our future," said Mr. Obama, who refers to the spending he likes as "investing."

The government hasn't lived within its means since a federal budget surplus in 2001.

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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.