Obama in College Park: Tax increase on rich necessary

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In behind-the-scenes talks Obama continues to reach for a "grand bargain" of up to $4 trillion over a decade, including some $3 trillion in cuts and $1 trillion in new taxes. Even though he's working with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on the approach, it's not clear whether it will find enough support in Congress to pass - or at least to pass in time.

In response to a question from a member of the university audience, Obama made a lengthy pitch Friday for the virtues of compromise - something that has seemed hard to find in the debt limit debate.

"This notion that somehow if you're responsible and you compromise that somehow you're giving up your convictions, that's absolutely not true," Obama said, blaming gerrymandered congressional districts among other factors for the problem, saying many lawmakers feel that making political accommodations with the other side in Washington can end up causing them to be challenged in their own parties for re-election at home.

He also dismissed a strategy promoted by some liberals as a possible solution, the notion that the constitution might give the president the ability to proceed unilaterally in raising the debt limit without congressional approval.

"I have talked to my lawyers, they are not persuaded that that is a winning argument," he said.

The 14th Amendment states that the "validity of the public debt... shall not be questioned," language that some scholars claim gives the president the authority to increase borrowing authority on his own

Obama's answer Friday suggested for the first time that he had actually considered the issue. Two weeks ago, Obama said, "I don't think we should even get to the constitutional issue."

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