Entries in Ceiling (12)


Carney: White House Would Sign Short-Term Debt Ceiling Extension

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- White House press secretary Jay Carney signaled for the first time Wednesday that President Obama would sign a short-term extension of the debt ceiling if it was needed to finalize the details of a larger agreement.

“We would not support a short-term extension absent an agreement to a larger deal,” he said. “That's not acceptable.  Obviously, if both sides agree to something significant, we will support the measures needed to finalize the details of that.”

Republicans have said the amount by which the debt ceiling is raised must be matched dollar for dollar in deficit reduction. The president has said the debt ceiling must be raised to get the federal government to at least 2013, which would necessitate that it be raised by about $2.4 trillion. Right now all sides only agree on approximately $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade.

Carney said “if both sides agree to something significant, we will support the measures needed to finalize details.  But there is no extension without an agreement on something big -- a firm, committed agreement on something big...We are not wavering on the president's absolute assertion that he won't sign, you know, a...sort of a tollbooth kind of series of provisions that temporarily or in a limited fashion raise the debt ceiling and we have to relitigate this again and again and again, not just because it's unpleasant -- in fact, not principally because it's unpleasant for everyone involved -- because that's bad for the economy.  It sends the wrong signal to everyone around the globe about Washington's capacity to deal with its fiscal issues.”

After the briefing, Carney just put out a statement to clarify that he mean the White House would accept a short-term extension of only “a few allow a bit of extra time for a bill to work its way through the legislative process.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney Breaks Silence on Debt Ceiling

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(PORTSMOUTH, N.H.) -- It didn’t take long for Mitt Romney to field a question on the debt ceiling negotiations Thursday during an event at the Portsmouth Rotary Club in New Hampshire.

After Romney’s opening remarks -- and promising the audience that he wasn’t going to “be the cure to their insomnia” -- he took questions from the audience.

The first one asked what he would do regarding the debt ceiling if he were president.

“The answer for the country is for the president to agree to cut federal spending and cap federal spending and put into place a balanced budget amendment,” said Romney. “That for me is the line in the sand.

“It is within the president’s power to say to the leadership in the House and the Senate that 'I’ll cut spending, I’ll cap the amount of spending, and I’ll pursue a balanced budget amendment.' And if the president were to do that, this whole debt limit problem goes away,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bachmann on Debt Limit: Obama 'Holding…the Country Hostage'

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann accused President Obama of "holding the full faith and credit" of the country hostage over the debt limit increase, and helped introduce a legislative contingency plan if the country’s top-ranked leaders are unable to reach an agreement to raise the statutory debt ceiling.

"President Obama is holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage so that he can continue his spending spree," the Minnesota congresswoman said. "We’re saying, 'President Obama, is your spending spree really that important to you that you would put at risk the full faith and credit of the United States? We’re unwilling to do that.'"

Bachmann is co-sponsoring new legislation with GOP Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Louie Gohmert of Texas that would prioritize federal spending in the event that congressional leaders do not strike a deal to increase the debt limit by Aug. 2.

The trio says that the Payment Reliability for our Obligations to Military and Investors to Secure Essential Stability Act, known as the PROMISES Act, would first prioritize the payment of active duty military salaries and, secondly, authorize the Treasury Department to pay principal and interest on debt held by the public.

“What this bill does is it guarantees that we set a priority to pay our debts and bills,” King said, adding that the trio’s priorities would consume about 15.2 percent of revenue. “There’s still a lot of money left over for the president’s discretion to play political games, but let’s not do so with our military and let’s not let our national -- the full faith and credit of the United States go to pot at the expense of political leverage.”

Bachmann was in campaign form on Capitol Hill, reminding reporters that she has been meeting with real Americans from important presidential primary and caucus states that are early on the 2012 calendar.

“The economy is tanking,” Bachmann said. “This is Washington. We’re all in a bubble here. I’m spending my time in Iowa, and South Carolina, and New Hampshire, and where the real world is. The real world is telling all of the politicians, 'Get your act together, stop being political, stop playing with us. We're not pawns in your game.'"

The PROMISES Act also contains a provision that ensures that members of the Armed Forces are paid without interruption in the event that the government faces a funding gap.

Bachmann has consistently downplayed the potential for catastrophe if a deal to increase the debt limit is not reached, and said she intends to vote against authorizing an increase.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Injects Urgency Into Deficit Talks: Time to 'Pull Off the Band-Aid'

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama injected a sense of urgency into the high-stakes deficit reduction negotiations Monday, calling on lawmakers in both parties to "pull off the Band-Aid" and compromise on spending cuts and tax increases.

"I've been hearing from Republicans for some time that it's a moral imperative to deal with our debt and deficit in some way. So what I've said to them is, 'let's go,'" he said at a White House press conference just hours before congressional leaders were slated to return to the negotiating table.

Obama has endorsed a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction that would trim close to $4 trillion over the next decade through a mix of spending cuts -- including changes to some entitlement programs -- and tax increases for wealthier Americans and corporations.

But Republicans oppose any deal that results in higher taxes, saying they would burden Americans in a weak economy. And many Democrats say they oppose cuts to entitlements without any new tax revenue. The president acknowledged the seemingly insurmountable standoff Monday, but said leaders on both sides need to sacrifice some of their "sacred cows" to get a deal done. He also rejected the possibility of a short-term extension of the debt ceiling to buy more time.

"We might as well do it now," Obama said of the aversion to compromise in both parties. "Pull off the Band-Aid. Eat our peas. Let's step up. Let's do it. I'm prepared to take significant heat from my party to get it done. I expect the other side should do the same."

So far that has proven easier said than done.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has categorically ruled out any cuts or changes to entitlement program benefits, while some Republican leaders have drawn a line in the sand over taxes.

Both sides may now consider a smaller deficit reduction package -- perhaps around $2 trillion -- based on some of the spending cuts identified in talks led by Vice President Joe Biden over the past few weeks.

The debate over a deficit reduction deal is a prelude to dealing with a bigger issue: raising the nation's debt limit, which must happen by Aug. 2 or the U.S. will run out of money and could default on some of its loans, administration officials say.

Republican leaders have insisted that, at a minimum, any increase to the legal amount the nation can borrow to pay its bills must be matched with corresponding cuts in spending.

Talks will continue Monday afternoon at the White House -- the third meeting since Obama became directly involved in the talks. Negotiators for both sides will meet every day until a deal is made, Obama said Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Sees Progress on Debt Negotiations, but No Solution Yet

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama made an unscheduled appearance Tuesday before reporters to say that some progress has been made in the deeply divided negotiations over the nation's debt ceiling, and "greater progress is in sight."

But he cautioned, there is still a long way to go: "I don't want to fool anybody, we still have to work through our differences."

Obama was adamant that he is not looking for a short term solution to the nation's debt crisis, a solution he said would merely be "kicking the can down the road."

"Right now we have a unique opportunity to do something big to tackle our deficit in a way that forces our government to live within our means," Obama said.

The president invited leaders from both parties and both houses of Congress to the White House on Thursday to continue the debt negotiations. He said both parties need to "get out of their comfort zones" and discuss cuts to spending and tax increases that would offset the nation's debt burden.

"I hope everyone leaves ultimatums and political rhetoric at the door," Obama said.

But both sides remain entrenched in their positions, and the road to compromise is unclear.

House Speaker John Boehner welcomed the prospect of a new round of talks at the White House Thursday, but said in a statement that any talks would be "fruitless" unless Democrats agree to forego any tax hikes.

In the Senate Tuesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell renewed his invitation for President Obama to travel to Capitol Hill to talk Republicans about how to move forward. But McConnell made clear that he would not sign on to any deal that raised taxes. Voters, he said, sent Republicans to Washington at the 2010 Midterm election as a message refuting the president.

Last week Obama admonished Republicans for refusing to accept a tax hike, even for the wealthiest Americans, as part of any deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

Boehner has led the chorus of Republicans refusing to agree to any tax increases as part of a deal. Last week Boehner shrugged off the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department for raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling as "artificial" and emphasized that "we cannot miss this opportunity" to close the country's growing budget gap.

Treasury Department officials have warned that a failure by Congress to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit by Aug. 2 could trigger devastating consequences. Whenever an increase to the limit has been necessary in the past, Congress has never failed to raise the debt ceiling. But to date, with Congress divided and ever more focused on the 2012 elections, lawmakers have shown little sign of coming together on any agreement to raise the red ink limit.

Making matters worse for the White House, the debt stalemate has come as a slew of disappointing reports on the country's struggling economy poured in. Last month employers added only 54,000 new jobs, the slowest month of hiring since last fall, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.1 percent. Another report on jobs figures is due later this week.

The struggling jobs market could have serious implications for the president as he seeks re-election next year. No president since Franklin Roosevelt has been re-elected with an unemployment rate higher than 7.2 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Debt Talks: McConnell Again Invites Obama to Capitol Hill

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday re-invited President Obama to meet on Capitol Hill with Senate Republicans on the debt ceiling talks, still at an impasse, that has caused the Senate to remain in session this week.

“Today I’d like to re-extend the offer,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “I think the best way to solve this impasse is for the President to hear what needs to be done, and how we can do it -- hear what can actually pass here in Congress. He needs to understand the principle at stake here from our point of view.”

Last week the White House turned down a similar offer from McConnell saying it was "not a conversation worth having.”

McConnell on Tuesday said that with just 27 days before the nation defaults on its debts, he hopes the president will agree that it’s a conversation worth having.

“I think we can do it. But I think he needs to understand what the legislative realties are and why,” McConnell said. “Republicans in Congress believe that finding a way to reduce the deficit and put Medicare on more secure footing is a conversation worth having.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opened up his remarks on the floor Tuesday with a new sense of urgency.

“This default crisis is not a new problem. It has loomed for months,” Reid said. “But we no longer have those months -- or even weeks -- to avert this catastrophe. We have days. Yet my Republican colleagues have walked away from the negotiating table when we were nearing a solution and so close to disaster.”

Reid said that Democrats will work on this whether the Republicans “like it or not.”

Moments after Reid filed cloture on a piece of legislation that would express the non-binding “Sense of the Senate,” on taxpayers earning $1 million or more each year and should, as Reid put it on the floor of the Senate, “make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort."

“When Republicans talk about shared sacrifice, they mean the sacrifice should be shared by those who can least afford it. Democrats believe the sacrifice should be shared by the richest 1 percent as well. The others have all sacrificed too much already,” Reid said. “Democrats are willing to compromise. But compromise does not mean allowing our Republican colleagues to put the wants of a few millionaires and billionaires ahead of the needs of this nation and the world.”

Senate Majority Leader Reid last week similarly invited President Obama to meet with Senate Democrats, but so far the White House has not accepted that invitation formally.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate’s In Session, But Debt Ceiling Talks Still Stalled

JupiterImages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As senators head back to Washington, D.C., Tuesday after their July 4 recess this week was canceled due to the remaining debt ceiling impasse, both sides remain entrenched in their positions, and the road to compromise remains unclear.

There are just 27 days until the nation goes into default, on the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department for action to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.  The White House said last week that they’d like to see a deal reached by July 22 in order to be able to raise the limit before defaulting on August 2.

That idea has had some support in the Senate.

“The White House I think is being very wise and careful,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said last week on conference call with reporters, “They say we should not step to the edge of the cliff because we might fall off. So I think having a date in advance of August 2 to have an agreement in place makes sense.”

But so far that advanced date has done little to speed up the pace of action on Capitol Hill and with the White House, with both sides blaming the other for the stalemate.

The main obstacles facing the negotiations is a stalemate over taxes.  Republicans have been preaching that any deal must not include any added revenues. Democrats Tuesday called the Republicans' position on revenues “stubborn” and “rigid,” and called again for revenues to be considered as part of a package together with spending cuts.

After turning down Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., invitation last Thursday for the president to meet directly with Senate Republicans, another invitation -- this one from Senate Democrats -- is still outstanding.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate GOP: Obama Passed the Buck on Debt Ceiling Talks -- One day before the fifth round of Vice President Biden-led debt ceiling talks are held on the Hill, Republican Senators on Wednesday increased the pressure on President Obama directly, accusing him of "phoning it in" and calling for the president to be more personally involved in the negotiations to avert a potentially catastrophic default on the nation's debt.

"Our president is totally disengaged," Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said at a press conference. "He sent his vice president to negotiate, what maybe once a week, twice a week? We are facing a debt crisis and our president is just phoning it in. I find that very disappointing. I think the American people find that very disappointing."

In April, President Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead the bipartisan deficit reduction talks with a group of lawmakers from each of the four caucuses, in order to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit before the Aug. 2 deadline for action. Since then, Biden has held four meetings with the group -- with the fifth being held Thursday on the Hill.

Johnson said that the issue requires the president’s full attention, "24 hours a day," suggesting that the level of involvement of the president shows that he doesn't properly understand how dire the situation is.

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, echoed the sentiment adding that Obama should get directly involved and "not just shovel it off to someone else."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said that Republicans will not support any deal to raise the debt ceiling unless it is accompanied by spending cuts at least equal to the amount by which the borrowing limit is raised.

After the last meeting of the bipartisan group, Biden said the group is "on pace" to identify at least $1 trillion in cuts. But Democrats oppose any deal that would include cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare.

Democrats say that new tax revenues need to be part of any eventual deal to raise the debt ceiling. Republican leaders in Congress have steadfastly said that the country has "a spending problem" -- not a revenue problem -- and raising taxes is not an option.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sen. Coburn on Debt Outlook: ‘I Would Downgrade Us in a Minute’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- If Sen. Tom Coburn was working for one of the credit-rating agencies, his take on the U.S. debt outlook is clear.

"I would downgrade us in a minute," Coburn, R-Okla., told ABC News in an interview featured on Top Line Friday. "Yeah, I would -- knowing what I know."

He also said rating agencies such as Standard & Poor's were too generous to the U.S. economy during the last fiscal crisis.

"I would tell you there's a basis on which a lawsuit could be filed against S&P, based on what S&P's evaluations were during the last financial crisis, and hold them accountable in terms of what the real numbers look like for our country."

Coburn also said he's not ready to give up on bipartisan budget talks developing into a consensus, though he walked away from the "Gang of Six" negotiations this week.

He suggested that he may support an agreement that includes new revenues: "The fact is we're at the lowest tax rate this country's been in a hundred years," Coburn said.

And Coburn took a swipe at American for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist, who has blasted Coburn for raising the possibility of supporting higher taxes.

"People like him -- who are a lobbyist -- have to use hyperbole to justify their positions. Right? I don't care what he says -- he's like a fly on the wall," Coburn said. "If you’re scared of Grover Norquist you have no business being up here."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Delaware Senator on Debt Ceiling: What Are Republicans Smoking?

Office of Sen. Tom Carper(WASHINGTON) -- With the nation blowing past its debt limit this week, some Republican lawmakers are suggesting that it might behoove the United States to keep it in place -- even if that means defaulting on the nation's debt.

Not everyone on Capitol Hill agrees. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., speaking to ABC News on Thursday, was asked about a comment by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., that defaulting on the debt could benefit the nation "in the short and long term" because it "forces politicians to make decisions."

Carper, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, responded bluntly to  ABC News. "When I hear people say stuff like that, I wonder what they're smoking. And it’s not something that's legal -- well, it could be."

"What would happen is the folks who lend us money from around the world and from this country are going to ask for more money. They're going to ask for a lot more money. In order to finance and refinance our debt, it'll cost us hundreds of billions of dollars. And we've got to be smarter than to see that happen."

Carper said he thinks Congress will wind up approving a small debt increase, or more than one small increase, as talks continue around a long-term budget deal that the White House can sign off on.

"Ultimately we would use the vote on raising the deficit ceiling to drive a deal on a long-term deficit-reduction deal -- something in the neighborhood of $4 trillion over 10 years," he said. "Finally, hopefully before Christmas, before Thanksgiving, before Halloween, we'll be able to come up with a deal that focuses on spending, does at least $4 trillion over 10 years. Maybe two-thirds on the spending side."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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