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Entries in Debt (81)

Thursday
Jul142011

Debt Limit: Pelosi Praises President's Patience

Official White House photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- While the temperament of the negotiations to increase the debt limit has been described as having all the drama of The West Wing, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did her best to lighten the mood at a press conference Thursday, and praised the president for demonstrating "more patience than Job."

On Wednesday, President Obama abruptly ended a nearly two-hour meeting with congressional leaders when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor asked the president whether he would reconsider his veto threat on a short-term solution.

Pelosi on Thursday said she did not see the problem with the abbreviated goodbye.

"I just don't understand what the problem is if the President of the United States has had a meeting for over two hours...stands up and says, see you tomorrow.  That's how meetings with presidents end," Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "You don't leave first; the president leaves first, so that was completely appropriate, unless somebody in the room thought that he or she should have the last word and start the exit from the meeting, but that would be I think a breach of protocol."

Pelosi commended President Obama's leadership during the negotiations and said that "day in and day out, the president has respectfully listened, accommodated, engaged in the conversation in a -- in a very informed way."

"He is the President of the United States.  I know he's busy. I myself am almost too busy to continue listening to some of the things that are going on in that room, so I know he must be very busy," Pelosi joked. "But he has treated everyone there with great dignity."

With negotiations expected to continue through the weekend, there had been some speculation earlier Thursday that the leaders would join the president at Camp David this weekend to continue working towards a compromise, but both House Speaker John Boehner and Pelosi both shot that idea down.

Pelosi also rejected Cantor's suggestion for a short-term solution, saying that "any suggestion that said we're going to end this for a little while, and then we're going to start all over again...I just do not think worthy of the American people."

As for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's "last choice option" back-up plan, Pelosi applauded McConnell for agreeing that failure to raise the debt ceiling is not an option.

McConnell has suggested leaders could bring a bill giving the president the unilateral authority to ask for $2.5 trillion in debt limit increases between now and 2013.  These requests -- which would require not one penny in spending cuts -- would not need Congressional approval.  Instead, they would be subject to something called a "resolution of disapproval."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul142011

Harry Reid: 'Childish' Eric Cantor Shouldn’t Be at Negotiating Table

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Following a testy exchange at the White House Wednesday night between House Minority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.,  and President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday that Cantor should not be at the negotiating table as the Congressional leadership continues to work with President Obama to agree to a deal to raise the nation’s $14.3 debt ceiling.

Reid repeated reporting in the morning newspapers showing that some Republicans have had enough of Cantor themselves in this ongoing debate.

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has shown he shouldn't be at the table and Republicans agree he shouldn't be at the table,” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday citing articles with Cantor’s fellow Republicans saying Cantor has been childish in the negotiations. “He has walked out on the meetings with the Vice President of the United States. It was childish. Another Republican said Cantor is putting himself first. He said this -- quote -- ‘he is all about Eric.’”

Negotiations at the White House ended abruptly Wednesday night after an exchange between Cantor and Obama ended with the president shoving back his chair and saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” before walking out of the negotiations.

By contrast, Reid praised Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for both being willing to negotiate in “good faith.”

Reid said with Moody’s warning Wednesday, the nation was already under review for downgrade, that leaders should be seriously concerned, and it’s time now to start listening and get the deal done.  He echoed the President Obama’s dire warning this week that social security checks cannot be guaranteed.

“Social security checks and veterans' benefits and paychecks to our troops would stop. Some of the most vulnerable Americans would be placed at risk. Our promise to the men and women who would protect this nation so bravely and those who protect it today would be broken. We would not be able to make payments to our military. Payments on our national debt would stop.”

McConnell took to the floor Thursday with a “with us or against” us type of argument.

“Either you're with the president and his vision of a government that continues to live beyond its means or you're with those of us who believe Washington needs some strong medicine,” McConnell said. "Either you want to simply borrow and spend our nation into oblivion or you want to get our fiscal house in order.”

McConnell said that Republicans will not be “reduced to being the tax collectors for the Obama economy,” and again pitched for the Balance Budget Amendment -- which all 47 Republican Senators support.

“If the president and Democrats in Congress won't agree to cut back, let's force them,” McConnell said. “Let's pass a constitutional amendment that actually requires congress to live within its means. It's time for the American people to contact lawmakers on the Democratic side and simply demand it. Republicans are unanimous in their support for a balanced budget amendment.”

Congressional leaders are due back at the White House on Thursday for the latest round of debt talks, the fifth meeting in as many days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul132011

Sarah Palin Blasts Obama's Handling of Debt Debate

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sarah Palin blasted President Obama's handling of the debt crisis on Sean Hannity's Fox News show Wednesday night, saying the "plans under Obama are making absolutely no sense."

"It's absolutely nonsensical, the lack of planning that our leaders are exercising," she said. "Obama's job-killing policies are really the antithesis" of what the economy needs to get back on the right track.

"He doesn't know how to make those cuts," she said, regarding the nation's budget. "He's never had to do this before. He's always been willing to spend other people's money."

She also threw in war metaphors, saying Republicans, particularly House Speaker John Boehner, "cannot afford to retreat...we need to reload."

"We will not capitulate," she said. "We will not hand over more power to President Obama, which I believe is unconstitutional." She urged Republicans in Congress not to wave a "white flag."

What if she were in Congress? Palin told Hannity she "would not vote to incur more debt. Not under this president, I do not trust him."

Nevertheless, Palin said she believes the debt ceiling will be raised.

As far as her 2012 prospects, the former Alaska governor maintained that she still hasn't decided what she'll do. But she acknowledged that the deadline to get into the presidential race is fast approaching, saying that by "August, of course, you have to be laying out a plan if you're going to be one to throw your hat in the ring."

She also reiterated that she's not satisfied with the current crop of Republican contenders.

"I'm not wholly confident that we have that field set yet," she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul132011

Boehner on Debt Talks with White House: "Like Dealing with Jell-O"

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a meeting with a small group of reporters in his Capitol Hill office Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, criticized President Obama and White House officials for their lack of resolve in negotiations.

"Dealing with them the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-O," Boehner said. "Some days it's firmer than others. Sometimes it’s like they’ve left it out overnight."

Boehner explained that talks broke down over the weekend because, he said, the president backed off entitlement reforms so much from Friday to Saturday, “It was Jell-O; it was damn near liquid.”

“By Saturday, they’d spent the previous day and a half just going backwards” on reforming entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. "The only thing they’ve been firm on is these damn tax increases," the Speaker said.

The Speaker also made it clear that he believes the president waited too long to get personally involved. When he phoned the president Saturday to give him the bad news about talks breaking down, President Obama seemed surprised but not shocked, the speaker said. The phone call lasted 35-40 minutes.

Boehner said that the tax increases the White House has been pushing for as part of what the president calls "a balanced package" cannot make it through Congress. "What the president is asking us to do just won’t pass," he said.

The Ohioan said that he believes the public supports the GOP line in the sand. "The American people want us to hang tough,” he said. White House officials "know they’re not winning," Boehner said.

White House officials of course, dispute this assertion and many others that the speaker made.

One thing Boehner and Obama both agree on: they do not want the U.S. government to default on its debts.

“Nobody wants to go there, because nobody knows what’s going to happen,” Boehner said. “It’s a crapshoot.”

That said, according to both Republicans and Democrats familiar with the negotiating process, the path forward remains unclear.

“We’re in a spot where we need to be,” said a Republican official. "It’s not a bad place for us to be" to get a deal done.

Boehner said that since January he urged him to lock arms with him and "go big" on changes to reduce the deficit. The Speaker said that he will continue to push for major reforms to entitlement spending and the tax code even if those provisions do not end up part of this deal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul132011

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

Wednesday
Jul132011

Boehner: Balanced Budget Amendment Sets Spending Restraints in Stone

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner released a new video blog Wednesday on his website, expressing his support for the balanced budget amendment that the House of Representatives will consider next week.

“We need to get serious about changing the way we spend money here in Washington, and implementing long-term reforms, like the Balanced Budget Amendment, will make sure we never again face a debt crisis like we do today,” Boehner said. “I’m confident the Republicans will strongly support this legislation, in both the House and the Senate. The question is whether enough of our Democratic colleagues will join us to provide the two-thirds [majority] necessary to send the balanced budget amendment to the states.”

The Ohio Republican said that adoption of a balanced budget amendment would help ensure “that spending restraints are set in stone, and the certainty it provides will help create a better environment for job creation across the country.”

“The House bill that we’ll consider would require the government to spend only what it takes in, and would include limitations on our government’s ability to raise taxes and to increase spending,” he added. “I voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment in the past and I'll support it again now. Since our new majority took charge in the House, we’ve been committed to cutting job crushing spending, and changing the way Congress spends taxpayers’ dollars,” Boehner said. “I've been clear with the president that the House will not grant his request for an increase in the national debt limit without spending cuts larger than the debt limit hike and clear restraints on the future spending by our government.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul122011

John Boehner: Debt Limit Increase Is Obama's Problem to Fix

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With less than three weeks left to reach a deal, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said the debt limit is President Obama’s problem to solve, and called on the president to lead and present a plan that he believes can pass both chambers of Congress.

“House Republicans have a plan. We passed our budget back in the spring, outlined our priorities. Where’s the president’s plan? When’s he going to lay his cards on the table? This debt limit increase is his problem, and I think it’s time for him to lead by putting his plan on the table, something that the Congress can pass,” Boehner said. “My message to the White House over the last several months has been real simple: The spending cuts have to be larger than the increase in the debt ceiling. Secondly, there are no tax increases on the table, and, thirdly, we have to have real controls in place to make sure this never happens again; real controls like a balanced budget amendment.”

One top Democrat involved in the negotiations, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, defended Obama and said a vote to raise the debt limit is not a vote to bail out the president but rather a vote to ensure the credibility of America.

“It seems to be totally partisan premise that somehow extending the debt is to the benefit of President Obama. It’s to the benefit of the country and president Obama is working as assiduously and faithfully on behalf of the creditworthiness of the country as any president could be expected to do,” Hoyer said. “The reason we need to increase the debt is because the creditworthiness of the Untied States of America is in the best interest of every American, so I’ll reject out of hand, categorically, and emphatically that somehow they are giving us this.”

Senate Minority Mitch McConnell of Kentucky went to the Senate floor earlier Tuesday blasting the president  for “deliberate deception,” while contending that as long as Obama is in the Oval Office “a real solution is unattainable.”

Boehner would not go that far, but admitted that “finding agreement certainly has been elusive.”

“I’ve been in conversations with the president for the last couple of months and clearly the last couple of weeks in a serious way,” Boehner said. “The president talks a good game, but when it comes time to actually putting these issues on the table, making decisions, he can’t quite pull the trigger.”

Boehner warned that if lawmakers “don’t fix the entitlement programs, they will not exist,” but added that he was optimistic the leaders would eventually strike a deal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul122011

Schumer: Cantor’s Debt Ceiling Proposal Immoral

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The fierce rhetoric on the Senate floor Tuesday continued with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY., who pointed a finger at the Republicans for being “dragged so far to the right by its ideological fringe,” that they are not able to get actually compromise to get a deal to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

“They would sooner end Medicare as we know it than ask millionaires and billionaires to pay a little more in taxes,” Schumer said, quipping that House Speaker Boehner “balked” at a Grand Bargain because of pressure from within his own party. “That's the nub of it. They would sooner end Medicare as we know it than ask millionaires and billionaires to pay a little more in taxes.”

Intentionally highlighting the divide between Republicans Cantor and Boehner, Schumer added that it seems that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor “is now the leader of these negotiations for the Republicans” after it was reported he did the plurality of talking on the Republican side at the White House debt meetings Monday.

Schumer called House Majority Leader Cantor’s proposal, made at the White House on Monday, which outlines $353 billion in health care cuts, with $250 billion in reductions in Medicare “troubling.”

“This approach is not balanced, it's not fair, it's not moral, and it will not be accepted. The proposal by Leader Cantor is very troubling.”

He repeated that an agreement “cannot be considered bold or comprehensive” unless it asks “millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations to contribute to deficit reduction.”

Schumer warned that time is running out to cut a deal with enough time before the Aug. 2 deadline for action set by the administration.

“This is crunch time. The clock is ticking” he said, “if we don't reach an agreement in the next few weeks, we risk roiling the financial markets and our nation's fragile economy will suffer a serious setback.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul112011

Boehner on Debt Talks: 'Takes Two to Tango' and Dems Aren't Dancing

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite President Obama urging both sides to make sacrifices and reach a “balanced approach” in the ongoing deficit negotiations, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Monday afternoon that raising taxes is off the table and suggested that the president should be satisfied getting his requested debt limit increase.

“This is going to take sacrifice, and this is going to take political capital on both sides, and I’m certainly willing to take my fair share of it, but if we’re going to take political capital then let’s step up and do the big thing and the right thing for the country,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Most Americans would say that a balanced approach is a simple one: the administration gets its debt limit increase and the American people get their spending cuts and their reforms, and adding tax increases to the equation doesn’t balance anything.”

Before heading to the White House for a second-straight day of talks, Boehner claimed that tax revenue increases were “never on the table” in the bipartisan negotiations to increase the debt limit.

“We’ve been involved in I think very sincere and honest negotiations and honest discussions,” Boehner said. “This boils down to two things, and I said it on Saturday night: the president continues to insist on raising taxes and they are just not serious enough about fundamental entitlement reform to solve the problem for the near to intermediate future. I want to get there. I want to do what I think in the right – the best interest of the country, but it takes two to tango and they’re not there yet.”

Boehner stood by his long-stated principles heading into the talks that the House can only pass a bill that includes spending cuts that exceed the increase to the debt limit, and does not increase tax revenue.

“I agree with the president that the national debt limit must be raised and I’m glad that he made the case for it today, but the American people will not accept -- and the House cannot pass -- a bill that raises taxes on job creators,” Boehner said. “The House can only pass a debt limit bill that includes spending cuts larger than the hike in the debt limit as well as real restraints on future spending.”

But with 218 votes needed to pass a bill through the House, and scores of Republicans opposing an increase to the debt limit regardless of the total cuts in the package, Boehner admitted he, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and the president will have to find a deal that at least some Democrats will support.

Boehner said that he and President Obama “agree that the current levels of spending, including entitlement spending are unsustainable” but that they “do not agree on his view that government needs more revenues through higher taxes on job creators” or the extent of the entitlement problem.

“There was a big conversation underway about revenues. Revenues in the contest of tax reform, lowering rates, broadening the base, which would encourage more economic activity and real growth in our economy that would result in additional revenues to the federal government,” Boehner said. “There is in fact a way to do this, but...that conversation can’t continue if they’re not serious about fundamental reform of the entitlement programs.”

Boehner also said that Republicans want to enact a balanced budget amendment, legislation that will be on the House floor next week, “to keep the federal government from spending us into the same situation again.”

“The fundamental questions are this: can you control government spending without fundamentally reforming entitlements? I think the answer is no. Do you need to raise taxes in order to get control of spending? I think the answer is no. If you want to see an increase in government revenues then let’s grow the economy and create jobs, broaden the tax base and lower rates,” he said. “Our disagreement with the president is not about closing loopholes. None of us are fond of loopholes. Our disagreement is over the idea of raising taxes on the very people that we’re asking to create jobs in our country.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul112011

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

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