Republican leaders appeared optimistic Sunday that a deal can be reached to raise the debt ceiling.
“I would hope so, and I think we will,” Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I understand what the president was saying about jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States. That’s why I have said in every public and private utterance that our obligation is to raise the debt ceiling. But to raise the debt ceiling without dealing with the underlying problems is totally irresponsible.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the looming debt ceiling vote an opportunity for both sides to come together and improve the nation’s financial standing.
“Some of our biggest accomplishments in the last century have been when we have a divided government,” the Kentucky Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Rather than thinking of this as a crisis, I think of this as an opportunity to come together, and those talks are under way led by the vice president.”
Instead, he called for a plan that sets a spending cap for the next two years, cuts entitlement programs and other spending from the budget, and takes steps to address long-term concerns about Social Security without raising taxes.
Boehner said Sunday that with the exception of raising taxes, everything — including Medicare and Medicaid — needs to be on the table. He added that President Barack Obama has not yet shown “real action” on addressing deficit reduction.
“I’ve talked to the president all year privately about the fact that we’re not going to increase the debt limit without serious changes,” Boehner said later in the program. “I mean, this conversation’s been going on for quite a while. I’ve offered to the president, I’ve said, ‘Mr. President, c’mon. You and I. Let’s lock arms and we’ll jump out of the boat together.’ I’m serious about dealing with this, and I hope he’s just as serious. No gimmicks.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said on “Fox News Sunday” that he would like to hear more about McConnell’s plan. The Illinois Democrat also praised his GOP counterpart, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), who appeared on the show with him and said that although he opposes raising taxes to deal with the deficit, he supports closing tax loopholes.
“I believe [Kyl] has set the stage for us to enter into a meaningful conversation, and it has to be a conversation where Democrats are willing to talk about the future of major entitlement programs,” Durbin said.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, who authored a House-passed budget resolution that would privatize Medicare, said Medicare reform should be part of the negotiations.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.