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Entries in Debt (81)

Thursday
Jun302011

McConnell: Obama 'Doesn't Seem To Get It' -- Wants Him to Meet with Senate Republicans on Debt Talks

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Saying that President Obama needs to "get serious" about the debt and deficit negotiations, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has invited President Obama to Capitol Hill. The invitation to meet with Senate Republicans on the debt ceiling negotiations is so Obama can "hear directly from Senate Republicans why what he is proposing will not pass."

“The President doesn’t seem to get it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., said on the Senate floor Thursday. “I’d like to invite the president to come to the Capitol today to meet with Senate Republicans. Any time this afternoon if he’s available, to come on up to the Capitol. That way he can hear directly from Senate Republicans... why what he’s proposing will not pass.”

Noting that the president himself has asked Congress to get working, and the Senate has since canceled next week’s planned Fourth of July recess, McConnell said that Thursday marks as good a time as ever to start working.

McConnell said he wants the president to hear directly from Republicans about the “legislative realities” in Congress, namely the fight over taxes.

“All of us know that Congress isn’t going to approve hundreds of billions of dollars in tax hikes -- it’s simply not going to happen,” McConnell said, “We’ve known that for six months -- and we’ve been saying it all along. The President does not seem to get it.”

McConnell said that is exactly what President Obama tried to defend Thursday in his press conference.

“What I heard him propose is that we solve the debt crisis by spending more money. And that we solve a jobs crisis by raising taxes,” McConnell said. “Who really thinks that the answer to a $1.6 trillion deficit is a second Stimulus, that the answer is more deficit spending?”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

Senate on 'Standby,' Senators Express Frustration About Uncertainty of Recess

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-ND, said Wednesday that he will unveil the Democratic budget plan to address the debt and deficit over a 10-year period next week and that he hopes that will “stimulate” the negotiations over the debt ceiling underway in Congress.

Conrad admitted to reporters that the “chances are pretty good” that the Senate will be in session next week, cancelling the 4th of July recess.

Aides to the senator say that he will first brief his colleagues on the plan, and then will reveal the details. This could be pushed back if the Senate is indeed on break next week.

“We want to have a chance to do this, a comprehensive package -- which it is. And this is an old plan to deal with the deficits and the debt,” Conrad told reporters in the halls of the Capitol. “It certainly has borrowed heavily from things in the fiscal commission but it is not identical to that -- has significant differences from that. But it is even larger in terms of deficit reduction.”

Coburn would not make any details -- or dollar figures -- known, but said that the details will come and hopefully, he said, will help the debt ceiling discussion.

“Hopefully it will help stimulate this discussion and negotiation that’s going on,” Conrad said.

After the special meeting of Senate Democrats Wednesday afternoon called by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., there was mass confusion among the senators themselves whether the Senate would be in session next week or out of session next week, on the regularly scheduled July 4t recess. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office says there is “no word” at this point. Many Senate Republicans have called for the Senate to remain in session and work on the debt ceiling negotiations.

The confusion was rampant between senators leaving the Hill Wednesday evening after the Senate adjourned until Thursday shortly after 8 p.m.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

Obama Scolds Congress, Says His Daughters Are More Disciplined

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an animated rant that livened up an otherwise subdued press conference, President Obama on Wednesday lit into Congress for failing to reach an agreement to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling as an Aug. 2 deadline approaches, despite repeated urgings by the administration to do so. At one point he even reprimanded lawmakers by noting that his two daughters manage to do their homework ahead of time, a diligence rarely seen on gridlocked Capitol Hill.

“If the United States government for the first time cannot pay its bills, if it defaults, then the consequences for the U.S. economy will be significant and unpredictable and that is not a good thing,” President Obama said of the debt ceiling debate. “We don’t know how capital markets will react, but if capital markets suddenly decide, you know what, the U.S. government doesn’t pay its bills so we’re going to start pulling our money out and the U.S. Treasury has to start to raise interest rates in order to attract more money to pay off our bills, that means higher interest rates for businesses, that means higher interest rates for consumers. So all the headwinds that we’re already experiencing in terms of recovery will get worse. That is not my opinion -- I think that’s the consensus opinion. And that means that job growth will be further stymied, it will be further hampered as a consequence of that decision.”

“These are bills that Congress ran up,” he noted. “The money’s been spent. The obligations have been made. So this is not a situation -- I think the American people have to understand this -- this is not a situation where you know, Congress is going to say, ‘Okay, we won’t buy this car or we won’t take this vacation.’ They took the vacation, they bought the car, and now they’re saying maybe we don’t have to pay or we don’t have to pay as fast as we said we were going to. That’s not how responsible families act. We’re the greatest nation on earth and we can’t act that way. So this is urgent and it needs to get settled.”

In response to suggestions by prominent Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner that the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department was “artificial,” the president said, “Aug. 2 is a very important date and there’s no reason why we can’t get this done now. We know what the options are out there. This is not a technical problem any longer. This is the matter of Congress going ahead and biting the bullet and making some tough decisions.”

If his two daughters can do their homework with plenty of time to spare, the president then asked, why can’t Congress get their work done, too?

“You know, Malia and Sasha generally finish their homework a day ahead of time. Malia is 13 and Sasha is 10. It is impressive. They don’t wait until the night before. They’re not pulling all-nighters,” he said to laughter from the assembled press corps. “They’re 13 and 10. You know, Congress can do the same thing. If you know you’ve got to do something, just do it.”

But the president wasn’t done yet. After touting his leadership on the debt ceiling issue, pointing out that he’d met with members of Congress repeatedly in recent months, the president took some shots at the Congressional calendar that leaves lawmakers ample time to leave Washington and return to their home states and districts.

“They need to do their job. Now’s the time to go ahead and make the tough choices. That’s why they’re called leaders. And I’ve already shown that I’m willing to make decisions that are very tough and you know, give my base of voters further reason to give me a hard time, but it’s got to be done, so there’s no point in procrastinating. There’s no point in putting it off. You know, we’ve got to get this done. And if by the end of this week we have not seen substantial progress then I think members of Congress need to understand we’re going to have to start cancelling things and stay here until we get it done. They’re in one week. They’re out one week. And then they’re saying Obama’s got to step in -- you need to be here, I’ve been here, I’ve been doing Afghanistan, bin Laden, and the Greek crisis. You stay here. Let’s get it done.”

“Alright, I think you know my feelings about that,” he said with a chuckle.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun282011

Senate Democratic Leaders Summoned to the White House

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House summoned Senate Democratic leaders to the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Democratic sources confirm to ABC News.

While the White House has yet to tell leaders what President Obama would like to discuss, sources say it will most likely focus on the ongoing debt negotiations.

The Senate Republican leadership has not yet received an invitation for similar meetings.

Wednesday’s scheduled meeting follows President Obama’s one-on-one meetings with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., Monday at the White House, following the breakdown of Vice President Biden-led talks on Capitol Hill late last week.  Following the meetings Monday, both sides were remarkably quiet about the details being discussed.

“They will continue to talk as we go forward,” McConnell’s office said in a written statement following the minority leader’s meeting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

Obama to Host White House Meetings on Nation's Debt

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is stepping into stalled negotiations over the nation’s debt Monday, hosting separate White House meetings with the top two leaders of the Senate.

According to the White House, the Oval Office meetings with Majority Leader Harry Reid Monday morning and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Monday afternoon are “to discuss the status of the negotiations to find common ground on a balanced approach to deficit reduction.”

Negotiations over the nation’s $14.3 trillion deficit broke down last week after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor walked out of the negotiations, led by Vice President Joe Biden, after they reached an “impasse” over the Republicans’ opposition to raising taxes.

"It is my hope that the president requested this meeting in order to finally explain what it is that he's prepared to do to solve our nation's fiscal crisis," McConnell said in a statement after the White House announced both meetings.  "The president needs to decide between his goal of massive tax hikes, and a bipartisan plan to address our deficit.  But he can’t have both."

The White House insisted last week that the negotiations were always going to reach this point.

“It is not as though this negotiating group could simply declare into law what they agreed on.  So the process was always going to have to proceed out of the negotiating room and move forward with the engagement of the speaker, Senate leaders, House minority leader, the president, et cetera,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday.

Biden will also attend Monday’s meetings. President Obama had been criticized by his political opponents, including House Speaker John Boehner, who earlier this month accused the president of taking a "hands-off approach" to the debt talks.

On another note, Obama will take a break in between negotiations to welcome the Major League Soccer champs, the Colorado Rapids, to the White House to honor their MLS cup victory and their 2010 season.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

Carney: Deficit Talks In 'Abeyance,' 'May or May Not Resume'

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(FORT DRUM, N.Y.) -- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that the deficit talks “are essentially in abeyance for now” and that they “may or may not resume in different forms.” He did not, however, have any “announcement about specific talks” to come in the near future.

Carney made clear that the talks were always going to reach this point. “It is not as though this negotiating group could simply declare into law what they agreed on. So the process was always going to have to proceed out of the negotiating room and move forward with the engagement of the Speaker, Senate Leaders, House Minority Leader, the President,” he said.

“These talks were designed to find areas of common ground...A lot of progress has been made. Obviously part of the design of this was to find areas of agreement and common ground and identify areas of disagreement which could then be referred to the leaders in Congress, the leaders, obviously to the president and try to work out some of the areas of disagreement. So, these talks are in abeyance but we expect going forward that we will continue to address these issues in search of a compromise,” he said.

Carney said that the president met with Speaker Boehner Wednesday night to discuss a variety of issues and follow up on the conversation they had last Saturday on the golf course.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

McConnell Rails Against Obama on Debt Talks

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor Thursday railed against what he called a "worrisome development" in the debt talks: President Obama’s lack of leadership.

"Where in the world has President Obama been for the past month?" McConnell said. "What does he propose? What is he willing to do to reduce the debt and avoid the crisis that is building on his watch?"

On the same day that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor dropped out of the Biden-led debt talks, and as the group was set to meet for the eleventh time Thursday afternoon, McConnell said that most Americans want President Obama to start acting like he's in charge.

“It's not enough for the President to step in front of a microphone every once in a while and say a few words that someone hands him to say about jobs and the economy. Americans want to see that he’s actually doing something about it.”

McConnell said that President Obama has “stood in the background.”

“He’s the President. He needs to lead. He needs to show that he recognizes the problem. And do something about it,” McConnell said noting that the Republican Party is not in the majority. “This is his problem to solve.”

In April, Obama appointed his vice president 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.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun162011

VP Biden Says Debt Talks Progressing, 'Getting Down to the Real Hard Stuff'

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- After emerging from the eighth round of Biden-led deficit reduction negotiations to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, negotiators made clear Thursday night that while the bipartisan, bicameral group is making progress, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.

“We’ve made progress on that but any progress on that is contingent on resolving other issues down the road. And I want to emphasize that,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member on the House Budget committee, said. “Today was primarily going over some of the earlier issues we discussed in a rough way at the beginning of this process.  And trying to pin down where we actually had agreements. And again I want to emphasize this, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”

Van Hollen said that everything is subject to be reopened for re-negotiation “if we don’t get agreement on some of the big issues.” Those big issues, the Maryland Democrat added, are still a “long way” away from being worked out.

Thursday’s discussion focused on non-health mandatory spending, which accounts for about 12 percent of the federal budget. But nothing had been agreed to yet, legislators leaving the meeting emphasized.

“We have more do to on that, and we’ve got more to do on the healthcare and more to do on the discretionary,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said.

Vice President Biden said there are still differences that have to be bridged and that won’t occur until the end -- a natural result of how the negotiating process works.  The meetings up until now, Biden says, have been about the low-hanging fruit in the areas where they can identify mutual agreement on savings. The tough topics are what is left ahead of the Treasury Department’s Aug. 2 deadline to enact a deal.

“We’ve gone through all those discrete elements, and the really tough stuff that’s left are the big ticket items, and philosophically big ticket items,” Biden said.  “Where we are now is we’ve gone through a first series scrub of each of the categories that make up the total federal budget including mandatory spending, and we’ve said if we could agree on the pieces most important to us -- Democrats -- revenue, we’re prepared to agree on some of the things you want in discretionary spending if we can get an agreement on military, we’re prepared to do more on.”

Asked whether he is concerned that if and when this group brokers a deal it might be hard to sell to the rank-and-file members on both sides, Biden said he is not worried and that they won’t agree on anything that they cannot get passed through each chamber with bipartisan consensus.

The group will meet up to four times next week and has been told to take “bigger chunks out of their calendar” for these meetings.

“Now we’re getting down to the real hard stuff,” Biden said as he left the Capitol this evening.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun092011

Debt Talks Resume; Promises for 'Robust Series of Meetings' Next Week

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On the Hill Thursday Vice President Biden led the fifth round of deficit negotiations to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit before the Aug. 2 deadline for action.

“The news economically and on the jobs front over the last several days I think underscore the importance of this meeting that we just came out of,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said to reporters following the meeting, “and there is a commitment for next week engaging once again in a robust series of meetings to see if we can achieve a result.”

Aides say that nothing has been scheduled yet for next week, but the group hopes to meet at least three times next week.

In April President Obama appointed his Vice President to lead the bipartisan deficit reduction talks with a group of lawmakers from each of the four caucuses. Since, Mr. Biden has held five meetings, ether on the Hill or at the Blair House near the White House. This week the House of Representatives is out of session and the week prior the Senate was out of session. Next week both houses of Congress will be in at the same time.

Cantor was the only leader to emerge from the meetings and speak with press.

“We believe that much of the problem surrounding the lack of job creation and growth in this country has to do with the fact that there isn’t a credible plan to manage down the debt and deficit in this country,” Cantor said, “That’s what we’re trying to produce here, and we had a much substantive discussion today and look forward to more next week.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun082011

Senate GOP: Obama Passed the Buck on Debt Ceiling Talks 

RonJohnson.senate.gov(WASHINGTON) -- 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.

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