Obama: I won't sign pledges

At a town hall in Atkinson, IL Tuesday President Obama said the GOP should put "public interest ahead of pledges."

Politicians -- particularly Republicans -- have signed a number of pledges this year, promising to support certain positions on everything from same-sex marriage to taxes.

President Obama, however, said today that he stays away from signing such pledges, and he thinks other politicians should, too.

"My pledge is to make sure every day I'm looking out for you, for the American people," the president said at a town hall in Atkinson, Ill. "I don't go around signing pledges because I want to make sure that every single day, whatever it is that's going to be best for the American people, that's what I'm focused on."

He said that other lawmakers should also make their decisions about what's best for the public -- "not about some pledge they signed for some special interest group or some lobbyist or some association somewhere."

One pledge in particular was a thorn in Mr. Obama's side this year as he sought to strike a "grand bargain" with Republicans on deficit reduction -- the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to never raise taxes. Many Democrats said the president couldn't reach a deal because so many in the GOP have signed that pledge.

At today's town hall, which was part of Mr. Obama's three-day bus tour through the Midwest, an attendee asked the president if he'd sign a pledge to include revenue increases in the next deficit reduction deal.

In addition to saying he doesn't sign pledges, the president suggested it wasn't necessary, since meaningful deficit reduction wouldn't be possible without raising revenues.

"If you have a deal that does not have revenue in it and you still want to close the deficit by $4 trillion, which is what the experts say is required to stabilize our debt and deficit, the only way to do that is you've got to drastically cut things like Medicare," he said. "It's just not the smart thing to do."

Mr. Obama persistently called for revenues to be part of the last deficit reduction deal, as part of an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. However, the deal finally reached included nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years but no revenue increases. It also calls for a 12-member, bipartisan congressional "super committee" to come up with at least $1.2 trillion more in budget savings by Thanksgiving, and Democrats are hoping to include revenue increases in that plan.

Mr. Obama said with respect to the super committee, "I've been concerned Speaker [John] Boehner's already said the folks he assigned [to the committee] -- none of them can vote to increase revenues."

Boehner has said it would be a "stretch" for tax increases to be in the deal, but it's theoretically possible.