WASHINGTON -- White House chief of staff Denis McDonough made his first tour of Sunday talk shows to warn about the impact of $85 billion in automatic budget cuts set to hit on March 1.
McDonough also said President Obama wants to work with Republicans on an agreement to reduce the federal debt by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, provided it includes new tax revenues as well as budget cuts.
"We're going to insist on doing this in a balanced way, a way that allows us to maintain the kinds of investments that middle-class families in this country rely on," McDonough said on ABC's This Week.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other Republicans note that Obama got higher tax rates in the "fiscal cliff" deal in early January, and this debt reduction agreement should be spending cuts only.
In the meanwhile, the White House and Congress brace for the March 1 "sequester," $85 billion to be split between domestic and defense programs.
McDonough, who also appeared on NBC's Meet The Press and CBS' Face the Nation, said the automatic cuts would gut items ranging from education to mental health to food inspections, as well as critical national security programs.
"You've already heard the devastating list of horribles that the Pentagon has said are going to be out there," McDonough said.
In order to avoid all of that, McDonough said Obama is "ready to do another $1.5 trillion to get up to the $4 trillion target that economists across the country tell us is needed to stabilize the debt over the next 10 years."
The president will also insists on a "balanced" plan, McDonough said; i.e., new tax revenues to be derived by ending certain loopholes and deductions.
"Let's fix this in a kind of balanced way ... with a reasonable amount of spending cuts and a reasonable amount of revenue raisers so that we can get this thing done and move on to the business of the country," McDonough said.