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Entries in Deficit (74)

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

Newt Gingrich Estimates Budget Could Be Balanced in Five Years

NBC News(PELLA, Iowa) -- Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who helped balance the federal budget in the 1990s,  told a crowd in Iowa Monday the current budget could be balanced in five years.

“I helped balance the federal budget. It took us three years, originally I thought it would take seven. It took three, but we couldn’t have done it in four months,” Gingrich said during the Family Leader's Presidential Lecture Series in Pella, Iowa. “They ought to produce a track that’s real and that’s not baloney and it’s not phony numbers that gets them to a balanced budget, and I think you can get there in five to seven years.”

Gingrich said the U.S. would default if the debt ceiling is not raised, resulting in a constitutional violation.

"It would be a direct violation of the constitution, which very specifically says you can’t repudiate the debt," Gingrich said.

On Friday, Gingrich wrote an op-ed admonishing the inclusion of any tax increases in the debt ceiling negotiations.  On Monday, Gingrich pressed Republicans to require the president to to include major spending cuts in the deal.

"I would not give the president a penny of debt ceiling that wasn't matched by spending cuts, and I was glad to see Speaker Boehner say that taxes were off the table. Notice I didn’t say revenues were off the table,” Gingrich said.  “You can get more revenue the smart way.  You don’t want to get more revenue by raising taxes in a depression, so it’s a fundamental difference.”

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

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

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

President Obama Threatens to Veto Deficit Reduction Package

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In his meeting with congressional leaders Thursday, President Obama said he would veto any deficit reduction bill that doesn't raise the debt ceiling until after the November 2012 election, sources tell ABC News.

The president argued that this was a time to think big, sources said, and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, agreed. Though how to get to an agreement is another matter.

As ABC News reported Wednesday, the president Thursday outlined three options.

One is a smaller, short-term deficit reduction measure. A second option would reduce the deficit by the same amount that the Congress would vote to increase the debt ceiling, roughly $2 trillion, as negotiated in the talks led by Vice President Biden.

The president argued for seizing the moment, going beyond the first two options and addressing new revenues and taxes, entitlement spending, defense spending, and discretionary spending, putting together a larger package that seriously addresses the deficit and steers the nation towards a more fiscally sustainable path.

All three scenarios need to extend the debt ceiling until after the election, Obama said.

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

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

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