Odds against him, Obama still bets on big deal

JIM KUHNHENN
In this Feb. 28, 2013, photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio pauses while meeting with reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, to answer questions about the impending automatic spending cuts that take effect March 1.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In this Feb. 28, 2013, photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio pauses while meeting with reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, to answer questions about the impending automatic spending cuts that take effect March 1. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he once again wants to seek a big fiscal deal that would raise taxes and trim billions from expensive and ever growing entitlement programs. But with automatic federal spending cuts ready to start taking effect, the path toward that grand bargain has significantly narrowed.

Obama has summoned the top bipartisan congressional leadership to the White House. Friday's meeting is his first opportunity to spell out his 10-year, $1.5 trillion deficit reduction plan in a face-to-face meeting with his congressional allies and adversaries.

His chances are squeezed by anti-tax conservatives, liberals unwilling to cut into Medicare and Social Security, and a Republican leadership that has dug in against any new revenue after ceding to Obama's demands for a higher tax rate for top income earners.