Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - The latest sign President Obama fears he's headed for defeat came this week when he said he'd seek a "grand bargain" with Republicans to reduce a $16 trillion debt.

Over the course of his campaign, Obama has ignored the monstrous debt he's piled up over the past four years in an orgy of unprecedented annual spending increases and budget deficits. Now, with little more than a week left before Election Day, and the presidential race in a dead heat, he suddenly wants a compromise with Republican leaders in Congress to curb spending and borrowing.

Well, he's four years late and $5 trillion short of dealing with an issue that threatens to engulf our government, the economy and every American in a sea of unfathomable debt and possibly another recession.

The front page headline in Thursday's Washington Post says "Obama vows to refocus on debt" in his second term.

In an interview Tuesday with the Des Moines Register, that he initially said was off the record, Obama called for a budget deal that he said was "one of the biggest things we can do for the economy."

Then on Wednesday, amidst new polls showing he was statistically tied with Republican Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign abruptly changed its mind and released the full transcript of the interview.

Next to the unendingly weak, slow growing economy and feeble job creation, the nation's debt remains one of the top three major concerns among voters. And polls now show that Romney is being given much higher approval score for his ability to balance budgets and deal with the debt.

No doubt the president's tightening polls were the key reason for the Obama campaign to release the transcript, a portion of which said this:

"We're going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business," Obama said. "It will probably be messy. It won't be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I've been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of [spending] cuts for every dollar in [taxes], and work to reduce the costs of our health-care programs."

(Actually, it was House Speaker John Boehner who first broached the idea of a grand compromise.)

The president offered no new details of what he would offer the Republicans in such negotiations, nor how they would deal with the Jan. 1 deadline when a mountain of automatic tax increases and spending cuts will take place.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.