Mardell: A way out of the mess

Mark Mardell
North America editor
@BBCMarkMardellon Twitter

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionOne way or another: Mr Obama saw many ways out of the mess but did not cite one in particular

President Barack Obama says there is a way out of the mess, and he is clear it is not House Speaker John Boehner's proposal.

He says the Republican's plan has no chance of becoming law. It's odds on the president won't have to veto it, as the Tea Party seems to have done the job for him. He's again urging people to tweet, ring, email their members of Congress and push them to reach a deal.

"There are a lot of crises in the world that we can't always predict or avoid - hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks," he said.

"This isn't one of those crises. The power to solve this is in our hands. And on a day when we've been reminded how fragile the economy already is, this is one burden we can lift ourselves."

While he said he saw multiple ways forward, he didn't cite any one plan.

He did say: "The next step is a debate in the coming months on tax reform and entitlement reform - and I'm ready and willing to have that debate.

"And if we need to put in place some kind of enforcement mechanism to hold us all accountable for making these reforms, I'll support that too if it's done in a smart and balanced way."

Now the last part is interesting. It is the stated purpose of Mr Boehner's plan to revisit this all in six months time to hold Obama to account.

It is why many Republicans want an amendment to change the constitution so the US has to balance its budget.

Maybe the president isn't hinting at anything more than a commission, which would be derided by the Republicans.

But if he is willing to lock himself into making changes to health and pension programmes, that might offer a way forward.