David Jackson, USA TODAY
President Obama says he's reaching out to Republicans, but isn't sure it will lead to a major budget deal.
"Ultimately, it may be that the differences are just too wide," Obama told ABC News.
The president added: "It may be that, ideologically, if their position is, 'We can't do any revenue,' or, 'We can only do revenue if we gut Medicare or gut Social Security or gut Medicaid,' if that's the position, then we're probably not going to be able to get a deal."
In the meantime, Obama said he will continue speaking with congressional Republicans, including a meeting Wednesday with some of his most vociferous critics: The House GOP.
Obama is seeking a new debt reduction agreement that includes both budget cuts and higher taxes, the latter by eliminating loopholes that benefit the wealthy.
Republicans oppose higher taxes in a new debt deal, saying they would slow economic growth; they are also seeking changes to rapidly growing entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
In his ABC interview, Obama said he is looking for a "common sense caucus," including Republicans, that says "we can do sensible deficit reduction with a combination of entitlement reform, some judicious spending cuts, closing some tax loopholes that nobody really defends on their own."
If Obama and the Republicans are unable to strike a big budget deal, it won't mean "a crisis," the president said.
"It just means that we will have missed an opportunity," Obama told ABC. "I think that opportunity is there and I'm going to make sure that they know that I'm prepared to work with them."