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Thursday
Jun302011

Dueling Invites: Senate Democrats Invite Obama to the Hill

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a case of dueling invitations, Senate Democrats have now invited President Obama to Capitol Hill next week to continue the negotiations to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

Calling Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s invitation Thursday of the president to come to the Hill a “stunt,” the Democratic leadership announced that they have invited President Obama and Vice President Biden to meet with Senators on Wednesday of next week.

“Leader McConnell knows that the President’s door has always been open, the president’s availability has never been in question,” Senator Schumer, D-NY., said, “we don’t need any more stunts. We need a willingness from both sides to give a little.”

The White House has turned down the invitation from Senator McConnell, R-KY.,  to come to the Hill.  It is not clear yet whether they will accept Reid’s invitation but he said he is “confident” that either the president and vice president will come to the Hill, or Senators will go to the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., outlined what next week in the Senate will look like -- a series of meetings on the debt ceiling -- after he announced Thursday morning that he’s cancelling next week’s planned recess for the Senate.

“Focusing all next week,” Reid said in announcing the schedule of events centered on the debt ceiling.

On Tuesday, when the Senate comes back into session, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Conrad, D-ND., will reveal his budget to the Democratic caucus.

On Wednesday there will be another caucus meeting, called so the president and vice president could join on the Hill.

On Thursday, President Obama’s economic team, led by Gene Sperling, will come to the Hill to meet with Senators.

“The whole caucus has to be involved in where we’re headed with this,” Reid said.

The main obstacles facing the negotiations are a stalemate over taxes.  Republicans have maintained that any deal must not include any added revenues. Democrats on Thursday called the Republicans position on revenues “stubborn” and “rigid,” and called again for revenues to be considered as part of a package together with spending cuts.

“If we can’t bring revenue to the table, we’re not going to have a serious conversation about dealing with this deficit,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL.,  said.

For the Republicans' part, Sen. McConnell insisted President Obama "just doesn't get it," and sent his invitation to the president so he could hear from Senate Republicans in person as to why they won't approve a debt deal that includes tax increases in an already-struggling economy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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

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

Friday
Dec032010

Kent Conrad: Time for White House Deficit 'Summit'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- While President Obama's deficit commission didn't gather enough votes to coalesce behind an "official" proposal that would move on to a vote in Congress, members of the commission are declaring the exercise successful -- and calling on the president himself to take ownership of the issues being raised.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., a member of the commission who voted to endorse the recommendations, called it a "measured success," with 11 of the 18 members of the commission voting "yes." The next steps, he told ABC News, will depend in large part on the president.

"I think really that's where it needs to go next. We need to have a summit that involves the White House, the leadership of the House and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans," said Conrad, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

"I expect their participation," he added. "That's what needs to happen next. I don’t think there's any member of this commission that didn't realize at the end of the process that something significant has to be done. We are on an utterly unsustainable course."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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