Entries in Debt (81)


'Frosty' and 'Frank' Meeting Between President Obama, House GOP

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the dozens of members of the House Republican Conference left the White House where they'd spoken with President Obama about the deficit and job creation, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., had a one-word review of the mood in the meeting. "Frosty is the word," Gingrey said.

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Penn., had a different take -- though he brings some perspective from his previous profession. "I'm a psychologist," Murphy said. "Let me just say it was good for them to talk. Good group therapy."

Murphy said the idea that Democrats and Republicans are talking is good. "We don’t get anywhere by being on opposite sides of Pennsylvania Avenue. Any conversation that keeps going is good."

The meeting, in the East Room of the White House, lasted for one hour and 15 minutes.

"Obviously there are long term disagreements," said White House press secretary Jay Carney. "But there is common ground and more common ground to be found to significantly reduce our deficits."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, described it as a "frank conversation" that he thought was "productive."

One House Republican told ABC News that he didn't find the meeting confrontational. "It was people making their points," he said. "A little honesty is not a bad thing."

At the meeting, according to attendees, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, noted that the House GOP has a budget plan, offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., that could be "scored" -- analyzed in detail -- by the Congressional Budget Office. The president does not, Cantor noted.

Pointing to lower-than-expected private sector job numbers in May, Cantor said more needs to be done to encourage job growth and motivate the private sector to create jobs, rather than increasing the size of government with money that we don’t have.

The president agreed that job growth needs to be a priority, saying that he is all for tax reform and happy to work together to achieve it. He noted that cutting taxes is smart to do politically, but the question is whether it is sustainable.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, asked when they can expect to see a White House budget plan in a form that can be scored by CBO. President Obama said he wanted a joint agreement that is score-able.

Healthcare is the driver of our debt right now, Ryan said.  He also described his plan for Medicare reform for the president, saying Democrats were mischaracterizing it. Our program is not a voucher plan, Ryan said, it is premium support -- which he then explained.

Ryan told the president that he is making a sincere attempt to address a problem, and he challenged the president: "Mr. President, the demagoguery only stops if the Leaders stop it."

His fellow House Republicans gave him a standing ovation.

President Obama told Ryan that he read the proposal and has never questioned its sincerity. 

The Ryan proposal obtains its savings not by reducing health costs but by replacing Medicare with a subsidy that doesn't keep up with health care costs as they increase, the president said.  That is a legitimate approach to solving the government's problem, but that does nothing for people who need health care as costs continue to rise.  

The public wants no changes in benefits but they don't want to pay for it, so we all have a challenge with our bases, the president said. The only way we solve it is if we sit in a room and come to some compromises.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich Claims He Has No Debts, Tiffany or Otherwise

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With clouds already forming over his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich sought to clarify another possible controversy Sunday regarding purchases his current wife made at jeweler Tiffany & Co.

Callista Gingrich’s financial disclosure showed a debt to Tiffany ranging from $250,000 to $500,000.  That prompted CBS Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer to tell the former House speaker, “You’re running for president, you’re going to be the guy in charge of the Treasury Department and it just sticks out like a sore thumb.”

While Gingrich wouldn’t reveal just what purchases his wife made at Tiffany, he assured Schieffer and his viewers that they are debt-free.

According to Gingrich, the couple is paid up on all their bills with the exception of a rental house in Wisconsin.

Gingrich maintained that his current financial situation is one that should be held as an example for the nation at large, adding, “I am debt free.  If the U.S. government was debt free as I am, everybody in America would be celebrating.”

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


Reid 'Confident' Debt Deal Will Include Repeal of Big Oil Tax Breaks

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With the Democrats’ bill to scrap tax breaks for the five Big Oil companies set to go down to defeat Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes that any agreement to raise the country’s debt ceiling will include a repeal of the tax breaks.

“I am confident that before we finish our budget negotiations here in anticipation of raising the debt ceiling that that will be part of it,” Reid told reporters after the weekly party luncheons Tuesday.

“There’s no justification for continuing that and I am confident that the final budget negotiations, that will be in there,” he stated.

Reid also shrugged off the fact that the Democrats’ Big Oil bill was technically unconstitutional because – since it is a measure that would raise revenues – it needed to originate in the House, not the Senate.

“That’s the least of my worries,” Reid quipped.

In the build-up to Tuesday’s procedural vote, Republicans have voiced widespread opposition to the measure, while some Democrats have outlined why they too have broken with their party to oppose it.

“This is entertainment and it’s really not funny and it’s not laughable – it’s very serious,” warned Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu on the Senate floor.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Debt Limit Maxed Out, Lawmakers Hold Firm on Remedy

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As the United States maxed out on its statutory debt limit Monday, House Speaker John Boehner is sticking to the Republican position against a tax increase while calling on President Obama and Congressional Democrats to come up with an amicable plan that cuts a greater value than any increase to the country’s credit card.

"Americans understand we simply can't keep spending money we don't have. Spending-driven deficits, record debt, and the threat of tax hikes are smothering our economy with uncertainty and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers," Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement Monday afternoon. "There will be no debt limit increase without serious budget reforms and significant spending cuts -- cuts that are greater than any increase in the debt limit."

Boehner noted that the Republicans' "Path to Prosperity" budget resolution has already passed a House vote and predicted it would "put us on a path to balance the budget and pay down our debt, spur job growth, and save programs like Medicare for current retirees and future generations."

Last Friday, the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees announced the country's benefit programs for the elderly will be exhausted sooner than expected due to the economic downturn.

On Monday, Boehner said that as Baby Boomers begin to retire, it's "an urgent reminder that we need to act now to protect those in or near retirement and save these programs for future generations."

"Half-measures and gimmicks won't get the job done, and tax hikes will only hurt job creation and do more damage to our economy," Boehner stated. "We've taken action; now it's time for Senate Democrats and President Obama to put forward a serious plan of their own."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Can Lawmakers Crack a Deal Before Debt Ceiling Deadline?

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With the debt ceiling deadline looming over Congress, Democrats and Republicans appear to be inching closer together to a plan that would keep the country from spiraling into default.

Both sides are expressing optimism that they can come together on a budget compromise that would reduce the country's deficit -- expected to reach $1.6 trillion this year -- and help earn the support of conservative lawmakers who say the debt ceiling should not be raised without spending cuts.

Lawmakers say they are looking for common ground in the 2012 budget proposals submitted by President Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

But the two sides remain divided on key issues such as how to tackle entitlement reforms. And with the budget issue taking center stage in the coming weeks, the heated rhetoric is likely to get more so.

Republicans are firmly against raising taxes, and are standing behind the plan by Rep. Ryan that would significantly alter the face of Medicare.

"I have not taken Medicare off the table," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Thursday. "The reality is this president has excoriated our budget plan and the Medicare proposal in the plan, and I certainly would like to see what their proposals are."

Vice President Joe Biden met with Democratic and Republican leaders Thursday at Blair House to discuss these issues. But many observers say it will be the freshman and Tea Party wing of the party that might be hardest to appease.

Several influential Republican lawmakers, such as Michele Bachmann, head of the House Tea Party Caucus, are against raising the debt ceiling until there is a long-term plan in place to reduce the budget deficit. The Republican leadership will have to win their support if it wants to raise the debt ceiling, action that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has warned must be taken quickly.

The United States is expected to hit its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling in mid-May. Geithner said this week that emergency measures by the Treasury could avert a default crisis until Aug. 2, but urged Congress to take swift action.

The Republican leadership is calling on the White House to submit a deficit-reduction plan and details on the amount needed to raise the debt ceiling.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Biden Opens Deficit Talks with 'Good, Productive' First Meeting 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden opened debt talks with the six appointed lawmakers at Blair House Thursday morning, in the start of the process of bipartisan negotiations on reducing the nation’s soaring deficits.

Biden said there are "two looming concerns" -- the debt limit, and the "much larger looming issue of the long-term debt,” which he said aren’t technically connected, though they are, “practically and politically” speaking.

“We're all in agreement that we have to deal with both these issues and we have to make some progress,” Biden said at the top of the meeting. “This is an opening meeting, where today I had a chance to talk a little bit with each of my colleagues.  We're going to lay down not hard negotiating positions but make sure each of us understand where the other guy's coming from, why we think the plan we put forward and each of have put forward makes the most sense.”

The vice president said he is “optimistic” at their chances. “But then again, I was in the Congress for 36 years and I've always been optimistic,” he added.

Participants in the meeting include Sen. Daniel Inouye, Sen. Jon Kyl, Sen. Max Baucus, Rep. Eric Cantor, Rep. James Clyburn, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jacob Lew, and Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling.

After the meeting, while walking from the Blair House back to the White House, Biden said that it was a “good, productive” first meeting.

The group will meet again on Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Raises Doubts About Debt Ceiling ‘Catastrophe’

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House and Senate Republicans are staking out their negotiating position ahead of the coming debate about raising the nation’s debt ceiling and they’re using all the leverage they’ve got.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, penned an op-ed in Monday’s National Review arguing that Congress should refuse to up the debt ceiling unless it also passes a balanced-budget amendment.

“The debt-ceiling charade must come to an end,” Lee wrote, "and the federal government must implement binding, permanent, structural spending reforms.”

Lee, a conservative freshman senator, pledged to “aggressively oppose” any efforts to raise the ceiling without accompanying budget-balancing measures.

“As history suggests, the strategy of creating a debt-ceiling boogeyman works every time,” he wrote, referring to what he said were scare tactics employed by the Obama administration. “Having maxed out one card, they habitually demand another, using threats of fiscal Armageddon to extort taxpayers into giving them ‘just one more.’”

Democrats and the White House have been warning of the dire consequences of not raising the limit -- the government would default on its loans and the resulting financial disruption would likely send the U.S. and global economies into an economic tailspin. Obama administration officials like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee have sounded confident that Congress will, in the end, raise the ceiling.

But that hasn’t stopped some of Senator Lee’s fellow Republicans from putting pressure on the administration.

“The idea that this is catastrophic is wrong,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, said in an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, on Sunday. “What is catastrophic is to continue to spend money we don't have.”

The Oklahoma Republican insisted that the “debt limit doesn't really mean anything because we've always extended it” and that the U.S. Treasury could still pay down the interest on the country’s loans even if the limit is not extended.

When asked if Congress was likely to raise the limit, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, said: “Maybe or maybe not,” suggesting that it should be tied to “the bipartisan deficit commission report of the ‘Gang of Six.’”

“That would be huge cuts in the future spending of the United States that may be a good deal,” he said. “Without that we should not send a blank check to the administration.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Levin: Ryan Budget 'Turns Back the Clock 50, 60 Years'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The decision from Standard & Poor's on Monday to downgrade the outlook for U.S. debt amounted to a shot across Washington’s bow, a statement as much about politics as it is about economics.

The top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee said he hopes it will send a signal to Republicans that they can’t threaten not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

“I think it's very clear. Don't play games with the debt ceiling,” Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich, told ABC News on Monday. “We have to act. We can't tie it to anything because if our credit goes bad, it has catastrophic implications. Look what happened to the stock market already. And if we continue to try and tread and try to combine it with other things we're really playing with fire. Don't do it. That's my message to the Republicans.”

Levin also attacked House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget, which was approved on a party-line vote in the House last week.

“The Ryan budget is irresponsible. It tries to turn back the clock on 50, 60 years of what made middle-income America in terms of health care, in terms of pensions,” Levin said. “And I think there's a deep divide. The president made it clear: Do we have one America or many Americas?”

“They say they're going to save Medicare. They should be honest. They want to do away with it.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio