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Wednesday
Jun012011

GOP Rep. Stutzman: 'Long Way to Go' on Budget Talks with Obama

Bill Clark/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- House Republicans’ meeting at the White House Wednesday failed to produce any breakthroughs on the budget, and participants described a “frosty” and “frank” session that one member of Congress likened to “group therapy.”

On ABC’s Top Line webcast Wednesday, freshman Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., a member of the House Budget Committee, said the meeting was “cordial,” and suggested to him that President Obama is “very serious about the debt.”

But he said the president is still not committing to budget cuts beyond what he’s proposed in the past. And Republicans, for their part, aren’t any more open to new taxes than they’ve been previously.

“He said that he made specific cuts in his budget and has put those on the table. But ultimately there was no discussion about whether, dollar for dollar, how far we’re going to spread this out over the next 10 years,” said Stutzman.

“So there’s a lot of maneuvering. I felt like this was more of a get-to-know-you type of a meeting more than, let’s sit down and negotiate. So we’ve got a long way to go. But I felt that it was a good step, and I appreciated his invitation to us.”

He said there was no progress in negotiations over taxes: “As far as an out-and-out tax increase, there was no discussion about it, because I think House Republicans had made our position clear, that we don’t have a tax problem in Washington, we have a spending problem.”

Stutzman said that “good leadership” would demand that a debt limit increase is agreed to well in advance of early August, when the Treasury Department has said the U.S. would be forced to begin defaulting on debt without congressional action.

“But you know how this town works, it seems like there’s a lot of accusations,” Stutzman said. “This isn’t just a government shutdown, like we were dealing with in the [continuing resolution]. This is an economic -- there are economic ramifications here if we don’t raise the debt ceiling. But also we have to show the American people and the world that we’re serious about controlling spending.”

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