Herman Cain Wins Straw Poll in Denver

Steve Pope/Getty Images(DENVER)  -- Presidential candidate Herman Cain won the straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver over the weekend with 48% of the votes, followed by Texas Governor Rick Perry.  

“How about spectacular,” Cain said to ABC News when asked how he felt about winning. “I would say that winning the straw poll is not bad for somebody who has a 48% name ID and with a lot of people who didn’t really give me a chance.  I am doing as well as I’m doing for one simple reason.  My message is resonating with the people.  Secondly, my approach to problem solving, so I guess there’s two reasons, is resonating with the people, so that does make us feel really really excited.”

Cain gave a rousing speech at the summit Sunday morning, energizing the crowd with his message about American independent energy, immigration, and fighting the establishment.  Many people turned in their straw poll ballot before Cain’s speech and tried to switch their votes after hearing him speak, though the conference did not allow it.

On Saturday, Cain placed second in the Smart Girls Conference straw poll, losing to Rep. Michele Bachmann by only 4 votes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Announces Congress Has Reached Debt Ceiling Agreement

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama on Sunday night announced that Congress had arrived at an 11th-hour bipartisan deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling and prevent an unprecedented United States default on its financial obligations. 

The deal, which Obama said was not the one he'd sought but which nonetheless required both Republicans and Democrats to make painful compromises, increases the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion through 2013.

The plan also includes a trillion dollars in spending cuts, and creates a congressional commission to come up with another $1.5 trillion in cuts by November 23, largely through tax and entitlement reform. 

If that November deadline is not met, the president said, automatic cuts go into effect.  Those include $1.2 trillion in cuts to domestic and defense programs, but reportedly would not include cuts to Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries and programs for low-income Americans.

"This compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need and gives each party a strong incentive to get a balanced plan done before the end of the year," the president declared.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


WH Advisor David Plouffe Says No Budget Deal Reached Yet

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- White House senior advisor David Plouffe says there is no formal agreement between Congress and the White House on a final budget deal, but that the framework of a viable deal is shaping up as the Aug. 2 debt ceiling deadline nears.

"No, there's no deal," Plouffe told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour on Sunday, before outlining the framework being discussed.

"Both parties agree that there is going to be a first stage deficit reduction - over a trillion dollars," Plouffe said. "There will be a congressional committee established. They're not going to reduce the deficit without tax reform and without entitlement reform."

Plouffe acknowledged that the current framework would not include tax revenue increases in the first stage, but said that would be up to appointed committee members to "get out of their comfort zone" in order to achieve deficit reduction.

"You're going to have to have closing of tax loopholes," Plouffe said. "You're going to have to have revenue produced to close the deficit."

Plouffe added that an enforcement mechanism being debated would apply pressure to the committee to reach long-term deficit reductions, as a combination of budget cuts and tax reforms would automatically be applied if the committee could not come to a consensus later this year.

"We're talking about a variety of options here," Plouffe said. "But the key principle is that the enforcement mechanism will be strong enough to compel both parties."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Republicans and White House Fully Engaged as the Clock Winds Down

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With just two days left before Uncle Sam’s credit card maxes out, there were a few signs Saturday afternoon that Republicans and Democrats may be closer to ending the standoff over the nation’s debt ceiling.  The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, expressed confidence that a deal could get done before Tuesday’s deadline.

“I've spoken to both the president and the vice president within the last hour. We're are now fully engaged,” said McConnell.  “I'm confident and optimistic that we're going to get an agreement in the very near future and resolve this crisis.”

House Speaker John Boehner signaled that he too thinks a deal can get done.  “In spite of our differences, I think we're dealing with reasonable, responsible people who want this crisis to end as quickly as possible, and I think we will,” he said.  

President Obama spoke with Boehner Friday night, the same evening that the House passed a $900 billion debt reduction bill that Boehner proposed.

Once the Boehner-backed bill got the Senate, Democrats moved to quickly to kill the bill, so that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could introduce his own plan to raise the debt ceiling.

Before the Senate could vote on the Reid bill, the House of Representatives voted Saturday to defeat the substance contained in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid' s plan.

Before the vote, the Obama administration said it hoped the Reid plan would pass. In a statement, the Obama administration said, "If the bill were presented to the president, his senior advisors would recommend that he sign it."

The Reid plan contains about $2.4 trillion in cuts and would raise the debt ceiling until 2013. Republicans have said one of their main issues with the legislation is that Reid is counting on saving $1 trillion by winding down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Republicans describe Reid's math as an "accounting gimmick.”

The Boehner and Reid bills have some similarities.  They both contain budgets cuts greater than the debt ceiling increase amount and both would create a congressional committee to recommend more cuts within a year.

The political brinksmanship comes as the economy sends up distress signals.  The Dow Jones has been down for six days straight, taking with it $183 billion in American’s retirement accounts and new figures show the economy grew a feeble 1.3 percent in the quarter ending  June 30.  

After meeting with President Obama at the White House, Sen. Reid seemed a little frustrated with where the process is.   “The question is: are we closer to an agreement. The answer is no.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Leaders: ‘It’s Time for the President to Tell Us What He’s For’

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Moments after the House of Representatives voted to reject Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to increase the debt limit, Congress’s top-two ranking Republicans say President Obama must now enumerate a legislative solution to the looming financial crisis that he will sign into law.

“It’s time for the president to tell us what he’s for,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a joint news conference with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It’s time for the president to outline how do we get out of this cul-de-sac that he’s driven us into.”

“We all know that if the president decides to reach agreement with us, the Democrats – most of them – will fall in line,” McConnell, R-Kentucky, added. “He is leader of the Democratic Party. He is the president of the United States. He needs to indicate what he will sign and we are in those discussions now.”

Although the Senate will not vote on the Reid proposal until early Sunday morning, Boehner said that this afternoon’s vote in the House “indicates there’s bipartisan opposition to Senator Reid’s proposal.” Boehner also said that Congress could have passed the Boehner plan last week but “the only thing standing in way of the House proposal over in the Senate is the president and Senator Reid.”

McConnell also predicted that a vote on the Reid plan will fail early Sunday morning, and he revealed that he had spoken to both the president and the vice president Saturday afternoon to begin the process of finalizing an agreement.

Earlier Saturday, the House of Representatives voted 173-246 to defeat Reid’s version of a plan to increase the debt limit by $2.4 trillion along with $2.4 trillion in cuts. No Republicans voted in favor of the legislation while 11 House Democrats voted against it. The bill required a two-thirds majority to pass because it was moved to the floor under the rules of suspension.

The House adjourned shortly after the vote at 3:16pm and will be in a pro forma session Sunday with no votes expected.

Still, the two GOP leaders did their best to assure the public that the deadline will not pass without a deal to raise the debt ceiling in place.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Debt Debate Drama: Senate Slaps Down House Bill, Clock Ticks on Compromise

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House Republicans Friday evening narrowly passed a proposal to raise the debt ceiling by $900 billion, cut spending by about that much and require another debt ceiling vote in about six months -- only to have Democrats in the Senate scuttle it.

As expected, the Senate voted down -- tabled -- the House Republican bill written by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The vote was 59-41.

Passage of Boehner’s bill in the House could, however, strengthen the Republicans’ position, showing their unity as they enter negotiations with the Senate on what kind of compromise can ultimately pass both chambers of Congress and raise the debt ceiling before Aug. 2, when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said the government will start to default on its debt.

That drama will play out over the weekend and into next week as senators begin consideration of their own bill backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., which would raise the debt ceiling through the coming general election and into 2013. The modified Reid proposal, scored again by the Congressional Budget Office this evening, shows $2.4 trillion deficit reduction over the next 10 years, matching a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit.

Democrats have noted their lack of input on the Boehner plan and say Republicans have refused to negotiate with them in recent days on a deficit reduction deal.

A spokesman for Speaker Boehner reacted to the Senate's vote in a written statement.

“For the second time, the House has passed a reasonable, common-sense plan to raise the debt limit and cut spending," Boehner press secretary Michael Steel said, "and, for the second time, Sen. Reid has tabled it.  The responsibility to end this crisis is now entirely in the hands of Sen. Reid and President Obama.”

So it appeared the game of "Debt Default Chicken" continued.  The House, following the Senate, is preparing a statement vote of its own. Each side's vote is intended to prove to the other that their debt-ceiling bills can’t pass.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Weekly Address: 'The Time for Putting Party First is Over'

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, the president issues yet another urgent plea for bipartisan compromise to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default, targeting House Republicans in particular for their unwillingness to find common ground.

“I have to say, Democrats in Congress and some Senate Republicans have been listening and have shown themselves willing to make compromises to solve this crisis.  Now all of us – including Republicans in the House of Representatives – need to demonstrate the same kind of responsibility that the American people show every day.  The time for putting party first is over.  The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now,” Obama says.

The president urges lawmakers to agree on a plan that both parties in the House can support, a “a plan that I can sign by Tuesday,” he says.

With the clock ticking toward default the president assures the nation that “there are multiple ways to resolve this problem” and that “the parties are not that far apart.”

If Congress fails to come to an agreement to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2, the president warns of dire economic consequences “that would be inexcusable, and entirely self-inflicted by Washington.” 

The president concludes his remarks by sharing one of the many emails the White House received this week about the ongoing debt debate.

“I keep my home clean, work hard at a full time job, give my parents any monies I can so they can afford their medications, I pay my bills and by all appearances I am a responsible person.  All I’m asking is that you be responsible.  I have my house in order and all I’m asking is that you get yours the same way,” Kelly Smith wrote in an email to the White House.

“Here in Washington, we need to get our house in order.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Weekly Address: Kyl Accuses Obama of Increasing Gov. Spending

House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republican Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) delivered the Republican address Friday, urging Congress to reduce government spending in reaching a deal on the debt ceiling.

“We start from the understanding that the reason the debt ceiling is a problem is because of runaway Washington spending.  So, Republicans have been united in the belief that raising the debt ceiling without making significant spending reductions would be irresponsible," Kyl says.

Kyl described Europe as a omen of the U.S.'s debt risk.

“With debt crises rolling across Europe, we know it is only a matter of time before people start to question whether America can sustain its huge and growing debt. If we don’t do something about our spending problem now, the scenes we’ve seen playing out all across Europe could happen in America."

Kyl also accused Obama and the Democratic leadership of trying to raise taxes and increase government spending.

“The simple fact is, in order to afford the kind of government this President wants, taxes would have to be increased dramatically – and for middle income Americans, not just on the wealthy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House Passes Debt Ceiling Bill, Debate Shifts to Senate

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- After a night and day of uncertainty, cajoling and tweaking, House Republicans prevailed in narrowly passing their proposal to raise the debt ceiling by $900 billion and cuts spending by about that much and require another debt ceiling vote in about six months.

House Republicans’ bill, which was written by Speaker John Boehner and passed 218 to 210, is doomed to fail in the Senate, where all Democrats have already pledged to oppose it. Democrats in the House also held the line and not a single one supported Boehner’s proposal. Twenty-two Republicans also opposed their party leadership’s self-described imperfect legislation.

Passage of Boehner’s bill could, however, strengthen the Republicans’ position, showing their unity as they enter negotiations with the Senate on what kind of compromise can ultimately pass both chambers of Congress and raise the debt ceiling before Aug. 2nd, when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said the government will start to default on its debt.

That drama will play out over the weekend and into next week as senators begin consideration of their own bill, which would raise the debt ceiling through the coming general election and into 2013. The specifics of what language senators will consider are not yet set.

Boehner delivered a fiery speech before the vote began, accusing the White House and President Obama of not offering their own proposal in months of negotiations.

“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the President of the United States,” Boehner said, pointing out that until last week he was ready to accept some increased tax revenues to achieve a larger deficit reduction bargain.

“Put something on the table,” he yelled. “Tell this country where you are.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate Dems Blast Boehner's Revised Bill as 'Absurd'

Speaker John Boehner arrives to a meeting of the House republican caucus in the Capitol on July 29th (Tom Williams/Roll Call)(WASHINGTON) -- After meeting with his caucus Friday for nearly two hours, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, D-NV., declared , “the only compromise that there is -- is mine” and blasted the latest bill from House Speaker John Boehner that is expected to be voted on in the House on Friday.

“It’s being jammed through that with all kinds of nontransparent dealings,” Reid said to reporters at the Ohio Clock on Friday. “They've basically given the right wing even more than what they had before.”

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY., called the revised Boehner plan an “absurd proposition.”

“To get his conservatives back on the reservation at this point, he's adding all kinds of poison pills to his plan,” Schumer said. “His new plan requiring that each house of Congress not vote on, but pass, a balanced budget amendment before any debt ceiling is raised will guarantee a default.”

Reid said that his door is still open to McConnell to sit down and negotiate -- and that he already has some Republican ideas that he wants to add in to make it more acceptable when he files cloture on his offer. The Majority Leader added that he has not taken his eyes off the McConnell fall back proposal, a hint that the final product could very well include elements of McConnell’s “last choice” option.

But Democratic leadership and, Reid says, his whole caucus, is remaining firm: “there will be no agreement if it’s a short-term extension.”

“We hope a deal can be had by day's end, but if not, Senator Reid is right to move ahead with his plan, which already is a compromise,” Schumer said Friday. “This would set up a vote just after midnight on Saturday night. That vote will be the vote to avert default. A ‘yes’ vote is a vote to be responsible. A ‘no’ vote will be a vote for economic catastrophe.”

Schumer said that the proverbial ball is in Sen. Mitch McConnell’s court.

“Leader McConnell has kept a low profile in recent days out of loyalty to Speaker Boehner, but he now needs to step up and help move the process forward. The time for providing cover for the Speaker is over. A nation hangs in the balance. We need Senator McConnell to become engaged. The ball is in his court and only in his court.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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