POLITICS

Obama rules out short-term bill, but talks yield little

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Obama tried to alter the debate by saying in his news conference that any potential tax increases on wealthier people would not take effect until 2013. Notably, that would fall after the next election.

The president said he would refuse to accept stopgap legislation of a few months to keep the nation from defaulting. "It's not going to get easier; it's going to get harder," Obama said. "So we might as well do it now. Pull of the Band-Aid. Eat our peas."

More broadly, Obama sought to position himself as the pragmatist seeking a compromise in a divided town.

To Republicans, he said they have long pushed deficit reduction as the way to create desperately needed jobs and now won't take yes for an answer. "Where are they?" he said.

And to Democrats eager to protect entitlements, Obama said doing nothing is not tenable.

"So, yeah, we're going to have a sales job," he conceded. "This is not pleasant."

Obama made clear Monday that any changes to Social Security would be designed to ensure money is available for beneficiaries years from now - as opposed to trimming costs to reduce the deficit. One possibility would lower cost-of-living increases for recipients.

Many Democrats deeply oppose that idea. As to why that would be included in debt talks, Obama said it all came back to politics.

"If you're going to take a bunch of tough votes," he said, "You might as well do it now."

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