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Entries in Debt (81)

Monday
Jul112011

Sen. Durbin to ABC News: 'Disappointed' in Status of Debt Talks

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sources on both sides of the debt negotiations tell ABC News that Sunday night’s meeting did nothing to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats. The only thing negotiators could agree on was to keep meeting; that, plus a shared belief in the room that those who downplay the consequences of default are just plain wrong.

After President Obama ratchets up the pressure with another press conference Monday, negotiators will go back in and lay out their differing perspectives on the amount of savings agreed to during the talks led by Vice President Biden last month. (Democrats and Republicans could be as much as $1 trillion apart.)

Reaching the fallback $2-2.5 trillion deal may not be all that much easier than the $4 trillion deal that collapsed this weekend. But Monday morning on ABC’s Good Morning America Democratic negotiator Sen. Dick Durbin was cautiously optimistic.

“I can tell you the president is determined to keep us there and make certain that we’re focused on the fact that the decision we make in that room will affect families across the American and decide whether this economy is going to recover. If we falter, if we don’t have sufficient political courage and will to get this done and this economy is going to be hurt then it’s going to fall on our shoulders,” he said.

Durbin called on GOP counterparts to “stay at the table” and said both sides need to be willing to put up big items. And he didn’t hesitate to point a finger at House Speaker John Boehner’s balk at the bigger $4 trillion deal.

“I’m disappointed. Last Thursday there was resolve through most of the leadership, Democrat, Republican, to do something serious and something large enough that would address our deficit in a...serious way but in a coordinated way, bringing everything to the table and being balanced,” Durbin said. “Unfortunately over the weekend Speaker Boehner said ‘I can’t deliver. I can’t produce on my side.’”

So how do they reach a deal in the next few days?

“I think that’s why the president has told us ‘Roll up your sleeves and be prepared to stay and get the job done.’ There have been a lot of folks on the other side of the table who have said ‘Well, maybe we need half a deal, maybe we need it for just a few months,’ and the president said ‘No.’ He’s told us over and over again, ‘We’ve heard your speeches, but this deficit is a moral crisis, it’s holding back our economic recovery and we’ve got to give some certainty to the business community across America about our future,” Durbin said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul082011

Obama Says Debt Debate Contributing to Dismal Job Growth

President Barack Obama talks with members of his staff in the Oval Office following a meeting with the Congressional Leadership, July 7, 2011. Pictured with the President, from left, are: Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Bruce Reed, Chief of Staff to the Vice President; National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling; Jason Furman, Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council; Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew; Senior Advisor David Plouffe; and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)(WASHINGTON) -- Reacting to Friday morning’s dismal jobs report, President Obama said that uncertainty in the debate over the deficit is contributing to slow economic growth and the nation’s rising unemployment rate.

“The sooner we get this done, the sooner that the markets know that the debt limit ceiling will have been raised and that we have a serious plan to deal with our debt and deficit, the sooner that we give our businesses the certainty that they will need in order to make additional investments to grow and to hire, and will provide more confidence to the rest of the world as well so that they are committed to investing in America,” the President said in his remarks Friday morning in the Rose Garden.

Despite economists’ predictions that upwards of 100,000 new jobs would be created last month, the economy added just 18,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent.

“Our economy as a whole just isn't producing nearly enough jobs for everybody who's looking. We've always known that we'd have ups and downs on our way back from this recession, and over the past few months, the economy has experienced some tough headwinds, from natural disasters, to spikes in gas prices, to state and local budget cuts that have cost tens of thousands of cops and firefighters and teachers their jobs,” Obama said.

The president urged Congress again to pass legislation that he said would create jobs, including investments in infrastructure, passing free trade deals and extending the payroll tax cuts he passed in December.

"All of them have bipartisan support.  All of them could pass immediately.  And I urge Congress not to wait," he said.

Obama said that Friday’s report confirmed what most Americans already know. “We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to give people the security and opportunity that they deserve,” he said.

The President also referenced the daily letters he receives from Americans. “I read letter after letter from folks hit hard by this economy … They feel that leaders on Wall Street and in Washington -- and believe me, no party is exempt -- have let them down, and they wonder if their efforts will ever be reciprocated by their leaders. They also make sure to point out how much pride and faith they have in this country that as hard as things might be today, they're positive that things can get better.  And I believe that we can make things better.  How we respond is up to us,” he said.

Copyright ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul082011

House Cancels Next Recess to Work through Debt Deal

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While there are some skeptics in Washington that suggest the administration and congressional leadership are overhyping the dangers of defaulting on the country’s statutory debt limit, the House of Representatives has decided to skip an upcoming planned week of recess to stay in Washington and work through the legislative calendar until a deal is signed into law.

Earlier Friday, House Speaker John Boehner stressed the “serious challenge facing the country” and said that “while some think that we can go past [the Treasury’s deadline] August 2, I frankly think it puts us in an awful lot of jeopardy and puts our economy in jeopardy, risking even more jobs.”

“It’s important that we come to an agreement, but it has to be an agreement that really does fundamentally change our spending and our debt situation,” Boehner said.  “There are a lot of conversations continuing, but I don’t -- in all honesty I don’t think things have narrowed, I don’t think this problem has narrowed at all in the last several days.”

Heeding his warning, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Friday that the House will skip its next legislative break and stay in session the week of July 18-22 in order to continue working on a debt limit deal. The next planned recess begins August 6, after the Treasury Department’s deadline to raise the debt ceiling, when lawmakers will break until after Labor Day.

Cantor, R-Va., also announced that he will bring H.J. Res. 1, the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, to the floor for consideration a week earlier than previously planned.

H.J. Res. 1 is a three-part amendment that would change the Constitution to require that total spending for any fiscal year not exceed total receipts, require that bills to raise revenues pass each House of Congress by a 3/5 majority, and establish an annual spending cap such that total federal spending could not exceed 1/5 of the economic output of the United States.

In order to become law, the amendment would have to pass through both chambers of Congress with a two-thirds majority, and would also need to be ratified by three-fourths of the 50 U.S. states.

The Senate skipped a planned Independence Day break this week to continue working on the deal, but is out of session Friday despite not having accomplished anything substantive on the Senate floor this week regarding the debt limit.

Congressional leadership is due to report back to the White House on Sunday after the president tasked them to work around the clock and through the weekend in an attempt to break the impasse between Republicans and Democrats.

President Obama described the goal for leaders to return to the White House and report “where each other's bottom lines are, and will, hopefully, be in a position to then start engaging in the hard bargaining that's necessary to get a deal done.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul072011

Obama: Meeting with Leaders 'Very Constructive'

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Thursday that he and congressional leaders had “a very constructive meeting” on the deficit earlier in the day, but that a deal has not yet been reached.

“People were frank. We discussed the various options available to us.  Everybody reconfirmed the importance of completing our work and raising the debt-limit ceiling so that the full faith and credit of the United States of America is not impaired,” Obama said in an appearance in the White House briefing room. “I want to emphasize that nothing is agreed to until everything's agreed to, and the parties are still far apart on a wide range of issues.”  

The leadership will work with their staffs over the weekend and reconvene at the White House on Sunday “with the expectation that at that point the parties will at least know where each other's bottom lines are, and will, hopefully, be in a position to then start engaging in the hard bargaining that's necessary to get a deal done,” Obama said.

The president said that the leaders came to the White House Thursday “in a spirit of compromise” and that “everybody acknowledged that the issue of our debt and our deficits is something that needs to be tackled now” before the hard Aug. 2 deadline to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt limit.  

Ultimately, Obama said everyone in the meeting acknowledged “there is going to be pain involved politically on all sides” to reach a deal of the nation’s deficit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul062011

Senate Prepares for Thursday's White House Meeting on Debt Ceiling

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- On the eve of Thursday’s White House meeting where a bicameral, bipartisan group of members of Congress will meet with President Obama to negotiate how to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, the rhetoric on the Hill Wednesday continued to set the stage for a showdown at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Wednesday said that the result of these negotiations will “determine the character” of the Republican Party.

“Will they be the party that came to Washington to help govern, to craft solutions to difficult issues facing this nation in cooperation with patriots on both sides of the aisle?” Reid questioned on the Senate floor, “Or will they be the kind of single-issue, ideological party who walks away from reasonable compromise for the sake of politics?”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that Thursday’s meeting will be a chance to “see if the president means what he says.”

“It's an opportunity to see if the president is finally willing to agree on a serious plan to pay our bills without killing jobs in the process,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, “Until now, the president's proposals have been inadequate and frankly indefensible.”

At issue is still the divide over taxes.

Democrats insist any deal must include an increase in revenues, including eliminating tax breaks for some companies and the wealthiest Americans. Republicans are staunchly against this position, and McConnell Wednesday said that it is “ludicrous” for the administration to propose raising hundreds of billions in taxes at a time when 14 million Americans are still looking for work.

Democrats stayed entranced in their position, playing a populist note on who needs to sacrifice more. But not all Democrats agree with the Democratic leadership. At least one Democrat spoke up Wednesday and joined Republicans in calling for spending cuts and no tax increases in the final deal.

“Debt reduction should focus on spending cuts," said Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson.  "I want to see a broad and serious package of spending cuts. And we can cut trillions of dollars of spending without attacking Medicare and Social Security. But if we start with plans to raise taxes, pretty soon spending cuts will fall by the wayside.”   Nelson, one of the more conservative senators in the Democratic caucus, made his comments during his weekly conference call with Nebraska reporters.

Similarly, not all Republicans agree with the Republican leadership.

Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., Wednesday said that Republicans should agree to certain tax increases and closing loopholes but only in return for an overall reduction in the corporate tax rate.  He also called for the negotiations to be broadcast on C-SPAN so that everyone could see the discussions.

In a throw-back to rhetoric of campaigns past, McCain also said that he needs to provide his own party with a little “straight talk,” and urged his fellow Republicans to abandon their insistence on a balanced budget amendment.

Leaders from both houses and from both parties will head to the White House Thursday to meet with President Obama.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

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

Tuesday
Jul052011

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

Tuesday
Jul052011

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

Friday
Jul012011

Minnesota Government Shuts Down Amid Debt Fallout

DC Productions/Photodisc/Thinkstock(SAINT PAUL, Minn.) -- Minnesota's government has shut down ahead of the holiday weekend for the second time in six years. State leaders failed to find common ground on resolving a $5 billion budget deficit.

Thousands of state workers will be laid off, state parks will be shuttered, the issuance of fishing licenses will be halted and the Minneapolis zoo will be closed.  Road projects will also grind to a standstill just as people hit the road for the holiday.

A midnight deadline passed without an agreement as talks between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and top Republicans unraveled over Dayton's proposal to impose taxes on the state's top earners, a move on which top GOP officials have refused to budge.

"It's significant that this shutdown will begin on the Fourth of July weekend," Dayton said in a news conference late Thursday night.  "On that date we celebrate our independence.  It also reminds us there are causes and struggles worth fighting for."

Dayton said he has been clear with state GOP leaders for several months that he is unwilling to agree on anything other than a total budget approach.

GOP leaders said the two sides were closer than Dayton is leading on, and have criticized his refusal to call a special session to pass a "lights on" budget bill, which would maintain safety funding at current levels to keep government running.  GOP leaders have said that the bill is a two-page document that is ready to be passed, according to Minneapolis- St. Paul ABC News affiliate KSTP.

"I think the governor's insistence that we pass a full budget is not going to be of much comfort to Minnesotans who are going to see delays on the highways because construction projects stop," Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said.  "It's not going to comfort people who can't use our state parks, or who can't get a driver's license."

"If the governor is willing to negotiate, I'll be right here on the Fourth of July," Koch said Thursday night.

Dayton did acknowledge that GOP leaders offered a K-12 education shift, as well as using some tobacco settlement money to bridge a gap between the two opposing sides, according to KSTP.  Talks didn't go anywhere, though, and Dayton said he sees no other way other than shutting down the government, in what he calls a "fair deal for Minnesotans," KSTP reported.

Residents across Minnesota -- the United States' 12th largest state with more than five million residents -- will be affected by the shutdown over the long weekend.  Some programs that will continue unabated include critical services like the State Patrol, prisons, disaster response and federally funded health, welfare and food stamp programs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Dueling Invites: Senate Democrats Invite Obama to the Hill

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a case of dueling invitations, Senate Democrats have now invited President Obama to Capitol Hill next week to continue the negotiations to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

Calling Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s invitation Thursday of the president to come to the Hill a “stunt,” the Democratic leadership announced that they have invited President Obama and Vice President Biden to meet with Senators on Wednesday of next week.

“Leader McConnell knows that the President’s door has always been open, the president’s availability has never been in question,” Senator Schumer, D-NY., said, “we don’t need any more stunts. We need a willingness from both sides to give a little.”

The White House has turned down the invitation from Senator McConnell, R-KY.,  to come to the Hill.  It is not clear yet whether they will accept Reid’s invitation but he said he is “confident” that either the president and vice president will come to the Hill, or Senators will go to the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., outlined what next week in the Senate will look like -- a series of meetings on the debt ceiling -- after he announced Thursday morning that he’s cancelling next week’s planned recess for the Senate.

“Focusing all next week,” Reid said in announcing the schedule of events centered on the debt ceiling.

On Tuesday, when the Senate comes back into session, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Conrad, D-ND., will reveal his budget to the Democratic caucus.

On Wednesday there will be another caucus meeting, called so the president and vice president could join on the Hill.

On Thursday, President Obama’s economic team, led by Gene Sperling, will come to the Hill to meet with Senators.

“The whole caucus has to be involved in where we’re headed with this,” Reid said.

The main obstacles facing the negotiations are a stalemate over taxes.  Republicans have maintained that any deal must not include any added revenues. Democrats on Thursday 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.

“If we can’t bring revenue to the table, we’re not going to have a serious conversation about dealing with this deficit,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL.,  said.

For the Republicans' part, Sen. McConnell insisted President Obama "just doesn't get it," and sent his invitation to the president so he could hear from Senate Republicans in person as to why they won't approve a debt deal that includes tax increases in an already-struggling economy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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