U.S. President Barack Obama is wading further into efforts to avoid deep cuts to national defense and domestic spending, telling an Iowa newspaper he is “absolutely confident” a deal that pares the deficit by $4 trillion will be passed.

After months of criticism about his absence in avoiding a so-called fiscal cliff, Obama first inserted himself into the sequestration fray Oct. 22 during the final presidential debate by saying that $500 billion in cuts to planned defense spending “will not happen.”

In a conversation the next day with The Des Moines Register, Obama expanded on his vision for how so-called sequestration cuts would be avoided. With middle-class tax cuts passed during the George W. Bush era set to expire at year’s end and the twin $500 billion cuts to domestic and defense spending also set to kick in, Obama said he believes Congress and the White House will feel so much pressure they will strike a massive deficit-reduction bill, while also keeping the tax cuts in place.

But, likely to the dismay of the defense industry and other sectors of the U.S. economy, the president seemed to suggest such a “grand bargain” will come during the first six months of the next presidential term, which will begin in late January.

“So when you combine the Bush tax cuts expiring, the sequester in place, the commitment of both myself and my opponent — at least Governor [Mitt] Romney claims that he wants to reduce the deficit — but 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, according to a transcript of the conversation in Des Moines.

“It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant,” Obama said. “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 cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs.”