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Entries in Deficit (74)

Tuesday
Aug302011

GOP 'Super Committee' Members Huddle Ahead of Full Panel Meetings

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican House and Senate appointees to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction met Tuesday on Capitol Hill behind closed doors for more than seven hours before vanishing without comment.
 
Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., joined Reps. Dave Camp, R-Mich., Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, for what aides described as an organizational meeting at the House Republican Conference office in the Cannon House office building.
 
After the meeting, Hensarling, the House Republican Conference chairman and co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, noted that last week he and the committee’s other co-chair, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., “encouraged members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSC) to engage in active and useful dialogue on the committee’s work,” and it was “in that spirit” that the Republican members met Tuesday.
 
“Republicans today discussed the work that others have contributed to the cause of deficit reduction and how we can work with our Democratic colleagues to achieve success,” Hensarling, noted in a written statement. “These conversations will continue, across the aisle and among each caucus, as everyone prepares for the first meeting of the full committee.”
 
Despite a strong contingency of the Capitol Hill press corps staking out multiple exits to the office wing, the congressmen left the meeting undetected without speaking with reporters, many of whom had been waiting in the hallways Tuesday morning for the Republicans to comment.
 
Heading into the meeting earlier Tuesday morning, members of the so-called “Super Committee” told reporters that the gathering would be an organizational meeting to determine the GOP’s plan of attack and schedule upcoming meetings with the full panel.
 
Top Republican leadership aides leaving the meeting refused to comment on the substance of the meeting and would not divulge when the next meeting might occur.
 
The full 12-member committee is expected to meet after Congress returns from summer recess next week after Labor Day, although a date has not been announced.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Super Committee Co-Chairs in 'Serious Discussions' over Group's Operation

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The co-chairs of the super committee formed to reduce the federal debt issued a joint statement Wednesday saying that they have been in “serious discussions” on the rules of the Joint Committee’s operation, including setting up formal meeting times and that committee members are busy reviewing the deficit reduction work that others have worked on over the past years.
 
The co-chairs, Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Representative Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, say that during the August recess they have been “working together” to ensure that the committee has “every opportunity to succeed.”
 
“In our capacity as co-chairmen, we are engaging in serious discussions to determine what set of rules will govern the committee’s operation, examining a schedule of potential meetings and exploring how to build a committee staff that will help us achieve success,” the co-chairs write in a paper statement. “Additionally, most of the committee members are reviewing the deficit reduction work that many others have engaged in over the past several years.”
 
The co-chairs say they are “eager to engage one another as we begin our work,” although no formal meetings with the 12-member bipartisan super committee have been scheduled yet. Likely, the super committee will meet for the first time when the House and Senate is back in session after the Labor Day holiday, during the first week in September.
 
“We encourage our colleagues to participate in active and useful dialogue across the aisle and among our respective caucuses as we continue to work through this process.”
 
The committee has until Thanksgiving to come to an agreement on a plan to achieve a $1.5 trillion cut to the deficit over the next decade. If they do not, the trigger options, negotiated during the debt ceiling deal would take effect.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug092011

Super Committee Takes Shape: Reid Taps Sens. Murray, Baucus & Kerry

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has made his choice of three people to serve on the 12-member “super committee” charged with identifying $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Nov. 23.

Reid has chosen Senator Max Baucus, D-Mont., who chairs the Senate Finance Committee; Senator John Kerry, D-Mass.; and DSCC Chair Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash. A Senate Democratic aide confirmed the picks after they were first reported by Politico. All three voted in favor of the debt ceiling bill last week that created the super committee.

The selections of Senate Democrats are the first of the picks for the 12-person committee to drip out.

Senator Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi each will also get three, but none of them have made a formal announcement of their choices. At a town hall in Kentucky Tuesday, McConnell said he is “very close” to picking his choices, but is not ready to make an announcement yet.

“The Joint Select Committee has been charged with forging the balanced, bipartisan approach to deficit reduction that the American people, the markets and rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s are demanding," said Reid in a paper statement.

“As the events of the past week have made clear, the world is watching the work of this committee," he said, referring to the turbulence in the stock market and the economy. "I am confident that Senators Murray, Baucus and Kerry will bring the thoughtfulness, bipartisanship, and commitment to a balanced approach that will produce the best outcome for the American people.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul312011

Obama Announces Congress Has Reached Debt Ceiling Agreement

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama on Sunday night announced that Congress had arrived at an 11th-hour bipartisan deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling and prevent an unprecedented United States default on its financial obligations. 

The deal, which Obama said was not the one he'd sought but which nonetheless required both Republicans and Democrats to make painful compromises, increases the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion through 2013.

The plan also includes a trillion dollars in spending cuts, and creates a congressional commission to come up with another $1.5 trillion in cuts by November 23, largely through tax and entitlement reform. 

If that November deadline is not met, the president said, automatic cuts go into effect.  Those include $1.2 trillion in cuts to domestic and defense programs, but reportedly would not include cuts to Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries and programs for low-income Americans.

"This compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need and gives each party a strong incentive to get a balanced plan done before the end of the year," the president declared.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul292011

With Debt Clock Ticking, Obama Makes Another Call for Compromise

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an eleventh-hour appeal for political compromise, President Obama urged Congress on Friday to find a bipartisan solution to avoid default, saying the stalled GOP House bill “has no chance of becoming law.”

“The time for putting party first is over. The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now,” Obama said from the Diplomatic Briefing Room at the White House. “I'm confident that we will solve this problem.  For all the intrigue and all the drama that's taking place on Capitol Hill right now, I'm confident.”

The president was adamant that House Speaker John Boehner's plan has no viable future. “The House of Representatives is still trying to pass a bill that a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have already said they won't vote for.  It's a plan that would force us to relive this crisis in just a few short months, holding our economy captive to Washington politics once again.  In other words, it does not solve the problem, and it has no chance of becoming law,” Obama said.

“What's clear now is that any solution to avoid default must be bipartisan.  It must have the support of both parties that were sent here to represent the American people, not just one faction,” he added, noting that the two sides are not miles apart on this issue.

With the clock ticking, Obama warned of the dire consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling and said the U.S. is in danger of losing its AAA credit rating over political squabbling.

“We could lose our country's AAA credit rating; not because we didn't have the capacity to pay our bills -- we do -- but because we didn't have a AAA political system to match our AAA credit rating,” he said.

With just four days left to stave off default, the president said that the country is facing an avoidable crisis. “The power to solve this is in our hands.  And on a day when we've been reminded how fragile the economy already is, this is one burden we can lift ourselves,” the president said, referencing Friday’s first read of the lower than expected second quarter Gross Domestic Product.

Once again, the president urged Americans to “make their voice heard.”

“To all the American people, keep it up.  If you want to see a bipartisan compromise, a bill that can pass both houses of Congress and that I can sign, let your members of Congress know.  Make a phone call; send an email; tweet.  Keep the pressure on Washington, and we can get past this,” Obama said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul282011

Faith Leaders Arrested in US Capitol During Protest

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Eleven faith leaders from a range of denominations were arrested in the Capitol Rotunda Thursday as they staged a protest urging Congress to pass a budget agreement.

Led by former Rep. Bob Edgar, D-Penn, and current president of Common Cause, the faith leaders kneeled on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda while praying and singing gospel hymns. Capitol Police evacuated tourists and press from the rotunda before arresting the protesters.

Police handcuffed the protesters with plastic ties and escorted them out of the rotunda.  Among the protesters was Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, who was sitting in a wheelchair for most of the protest but lifted out of it upon his arrest.

The faith leaders met with Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., and Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, prior to their protest.

“Talk about debt ceiling is dry and arcane.  What we need to do is make sure people understand that what we’re talking about here is the greatness of America and the prosperity in the broader sense of the American people,” Holt told the group before the protest.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul252011

Obama Supports Reid's Debt Plan, But Will House Democrats?

Office of Sen. Harry Reid(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama may be endorsing Majority Leader Harry Reid’s debt ceiling proposal, but the plan isn’t likely to get a warm embrace by House Democrats.

In an interview with ABC News on Monday, freshman Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California said she thought that the proposal by Sen. Reid that asks for spending cuts but no new revenues is “going to be very, very hard for Democrats in the House” to support.

“The bottom line for us,” said Bass, “is a balanced approach. If you’re going to have cuts, you’re going to have to find some ways to raise revenues.

“I think it's going to be hard to get Democratic votes if it's not a balanced approach and I think it's also going to be important to see how many Republican votes come to the table you know I feel for Speaker Boehner. Frankly, I think that his caucus should allow him to negotiate the best deal they shouldn't hold him hostage either.”

Even so, the former Speaker of the California Assembly is optimistic that a deal is reached. “I think a deal gets done,” said Bass. “I think it might wait until the last minute and sometimes in a situation like this it blows up before it comes back together,” said Bass, “so even though we are a few days away I'm going to be optimistic the deal will be done.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul252011

Boehner Plan: House Republicans Propose Two Steps to Cut Deficit

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News has learned the framework of a two-step plan to increase the debt limit that House Speaker John Boehner is presenting to the Republican rank and file Monday afternoon at a closed-door conference meeting.

According to multiple senior Republican aides familiar with the negotiations, Boehner is expected to outline a two-step approach that would cut and cap discretionary spending to generate $1.2 trillion savings over 10 years and increase the debt limit by less than $1 trillion. The plan would also create a joint committee on deficit reduction to come up with a second wave of deficit reduction by the end of this year.

After the first round of cuts and caps, the House Republican plan would create a joint committee on deficit reduction with a broad legislative mandate to reduce the deficit by at least an additional $1.8 trillion over 10 years.

The committee’s deficit savings could be achieved either through spending cuts or tax increases, or a combination of both -- whatever can pass out of the bipartisan committee and also pass through both Houses of Congress, according to aides. A simple majority on the committee would have until Nov. 23 to provide its recommendations to Congress, while both chambers would be required to hold an up or down vote immune from legislative delaying tactics -- no filibusters and no amendments -- by Dec. 23.

If the committee’s plan is approved, then the president would be authorized to request a debt limit increase of up to $1.6 trillion. The actual increase would be worked out in the future but would be slightly less than the total amount of deficit reduction in the committee’s plan. Congress could still have the opportunity to disown the president’s request by passing a joint resolution of disapproval, but the president could veto the disapproval and get his debt limit increase anyway.

The proposed committee would include 12 members -- six Republicans and six Democrats -- appointed by leaders of both parties in both chambers of Congress, with two chairs appointed by the House Speaker and Senate majority leader.

The Republican’s plan also ensures that spending cuts are larger than any debt ceiling increase and implements spending caps to restrain future spending while guaranteeing a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment before the end of the year -- although the amendment would not be required to pass both Houses of Congress.

Sources also say that the first phase of the plan does not have any tax increases, although the special committee on deficit reduction could approve increased revenue as part of its second phase -- similar to how the Gang of Six included increased revenue in its plan.

The GOP’s plan is competing with an alternative that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is drafting to put before the Senate this week.

Sunday evening Reid, D-Nev., introduced an 11th hour proposal to cut $2.7 trillion over 10 years without raising revenues and still increasing the debt limit beyond the end of 2012 and the coming general election.

Republican aides hope that their proposal attracts Senate Republicans to support the House plan and squelch Reid’s aspirations to send a Democratic alternative to the House.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul252011

Dems, GOP Pursue Separate Debt Plans after Weekend Standoff

Stephen Chernin/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After a weekend of fitful back-and-forth between House Republicans, President Obama and Congressional Democrats, both parties are now pursuing separate plans to raise the debt ceiling.

But for all the sound and fury the bottom line is that both sides have now moved decisively in a direction that should avoid default.

The two plans differ in important ways, but both have these things in common:

  • Significant spending cuts
  • No tax increases
  • Avoiding default

Neither plan has yet been provided to the public, but here’s what sources say they are:

The Democratic Plan

  • Now being drafted by Harry Reid and his staff, the plan would have $2.7 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years, no tax increases and a debt ceiling increase (of $2.4 billion) that would last until 2013.  Republicans still won’t like this because the $2.4 trillion in “cuts” will likely include more than $1 trillion in “savings” because the US won’t be fighting a war in Iraq anymore and will be reducing troop levels in Afghanistan.  Republicans say that isn’t really a spending cut (although the budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and passed through the House, also includes these savings).

The Republican Plan

  • This is a two-step plan:  $1.2 trillion in cuts now and a debt ceiling increase of about a trillion (enough to last until about Feb. 2012).  For the second step, a bi-partisan committee would be created to identify another $1.8 trillion in cuts.  Once those cuts are approved, the debt ceiling would then be extended until 2013.

There is still plenty of uncertainty ahead about which plan can pass and whether it can all be done by Aug. 2, but we can now at least envision how this all ends.  

In a written statement late Sunday, Reid said bipartisan talks broke down this weekend "over Republicans' continued insistence on a short-term raise of the debt ceiling," something he, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and the president have strongly opposed.  "A short-term extension would not provide the certainty the markets are looking for, and risks many of the same dire economic consequences that would be triggered by default itself. Speaker Boehner’s plan, no matter how he tries to dress it up, is simply a short-term plan, and is therefore a non-starter in the Senate and with the President," Reid, D-Nev., said.

Pelosi praised Reid "for putting forward an approach to reduce the deficit that protects Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries."

“The major features of Senator Reid's proposal have already been supported by Republicans in the past months," Pelosi said. "Our efforts to reduce the deficit are not over and we must work in a bipartisan way to address tax simplifications and reform, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely."

A senior GOP aide close to the failed bipartisan negotiations said Sunday that Reid was in communication with Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the two Senate leaders had directed staff members to collaborate on draft bipartisan legislation similar to the plan now being pursued by Congressional Republicans. The GOP aide said Reid even took the idea down to the White House Sunday evening but the president said no.

President Obama has opposed the idea of a short-term debt ceiling increase -- any more than days or weeks -- because it would force another vote on the issue, with its potentially dire economic implications, in the midst of the presidential election.

"The Speaker, Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell all agreed on the general framework of a two-part plan. A short-term increase (with cuts greater than the increase), combined with a committee to find long-term savings before the rest of the increase would be considered," the aide said. "Sen. Reid. took the bipartisan plan to the White House and the president said no."

The deadline for the U.S. government to raise the debt ceiling without defaulting on any obligations in Aug. 2, but the urgency of finding a solution and breaking the standoff was clear as Asian markets were off by about 0.7 percent in early trading, gold is trading at a record price ($1,613 per troy oz) and the dollar is dropping against other currencies as investors warily eyed the situation in Washington.

Futures contracts indicated a 1 percent drop in U.S. markets at the 9:30 a.m. ET open Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul252011

Boehner: GOP Must 'Sacrifice' to Avoid Default

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The top Democrats from the House and Senate met with President Obama at the White House on Sunday evening, as House Speaker John Boehner told his Republican members it is time to make "some sacrifices" to avert a debt crisis.

The late-day activity came as financial markets started opening around the world and reacting to the breakdown of negotiations and missed deadlines.

Boehner, R-Ohio, had promised to unveil his "new measure" to avoid a debt crisis in an effort to calm the Asian financial markets. He did not. But the outlines suggest there is still work to do.

The speaker would increase the debt ceiling by a trillion dollars and cut spending by a trillion dollars. That is a short-term fix that would allow the country to borrow money and pay its bills through January.

During that period, Boehner's plan calls for the appointment of a 12-member Congressional Commission to come up with an additional $3 trillion in cuts and revenue increases through tax reform.

What is unclear is whether Congress would be forced to vote to raise the debt ceiling again.

The president has threatened a veto of any bill that does not extend the debt ceiling beyond the 2012 elections.

The United States will run out of borrowing authority on Aug. 2, and members of Congress know they must start moving legislation now to pass a debt ceiling extension in time and avoid the possibility of defaulting on bonds.

While Boehner works his plan, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working on another short-term solution that would probably give the president the ability to raise the debt limit.

Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi met with Obama for just over an hour Sunday evening behind closed doors, but the White House had little to say about what went on in the talks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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