Obama: Some spending cuts won't help economy grow

President Obama told CBS News he's "willing to go more than halfway" to compromise with Republicans on the budget, but wouldn't make cuts to programs like education or healthcare for the poor and middle class because it wouldn't help the deficit.
CBS News

(CBS News) ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -  President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney went into the conventions virtually tied in the polls. Following the Democratic National Convention last week, however, the president came out with five-point lead over his GOP challenger.

A new Gallup poll shows President Obama leading Romney 49 percent to 44 percent, a bounce commonly seen after a party's convention.

Still, election day results remain unpredictable because the polls are -- and have been -- so close. The president sat down with CBS News in St. Petersburg during his Florida bus tour to discuss compromise, the highly-partisan atmosphere of this year's campaign, and how he would never cut spending to education or healthcare for the poor and needy because that wouldn't help the economy.

Below is a partial transcript of the interview.

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Scott Pelley: The folks at home are so concerned about Washington's apparent inability to get big things done. How can you assure the American people that you are willing to go halfway and make a compromise with these people that you apparently have such acrimony with?

President Barack Obama: Well, Scott, I've gotta tell you -- there may be acrimony directed towards me, but you know what? That's not unique to my presidency. I'm willing to go more than halfway. And I've displayed that. I think that throughout my political career I've shown not only an instinct but a desire to find common ground. What I'm not willing to do is to slash education spending or, you know, healthcare for poor and needy children. And the reason I'm not willing to do that is because it's not gonna help the economy grow. Independent economists have looked at this ... It wouldn't reduce the deficit.

Pelley: Bob Woodward has a new book coming out this week and in that book he writes that in your last call with Speaker Boehner when the grand bargain was failing, that you were gripped with "A flash of pure fury on the telephone call." And one of the people in the room said they thought you were going to break the receiver. Is that true?

President Obama Well, I don't know if I was gonna break the receiver. I wasn't happy. And the reason I wasn't happy [was] because I understood what was at stake. Unfortunately, I think the Speaker had difficulty convincing his caucus that modest revenue increases -- a tax increase on the wealthiest of Americans -- to offset very real and tough spending cuts that were being imposed on middle class and poorer folks, that that wasn't a deal worth taking. So yes, I was frustrated, but that's behind us. And the question now is: How do we move forward? There is a deal to be had to reduce the deficit. And I'm ready and eager to get that done.