White House Debt Talks Last Less Than an Hour
President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders met Saturday for less than an hour as they worked to meet an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling.
The meeting began shortly after 11:00 A.M. in the White House Cabinet Room and adjourned just before noon.
The group is working to find a way forward on the debt ceiling as the nation approaches the Aug. 2 deadline when the United States will exhaust its borrowing capacity. If Congress fails to act by then, the U.S. is expected to begin to default on its obligations and would likely lose its AAA credit rating, resulting in increased borrowing costs.
Obama called Saturday’s meeting at a Friday news conference after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) backed away from a deficit reduction package, which is needed in order to win enough votes in Congress to pass an increase in the debt ceiling. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and Vice President Joseph Biden also attended the meeting.
The sticking point on the package has been taxes. Republicans want the plan to consist of only spending cuts and oppose raising taxes to rein in the deficit. Democrats agree that spending needs to be trimmed, but are pushing for including tax increases in the plan.
The plan that Obama and Boehner had negotiated would have included $1.2 billion in new revenue, according to the White House.
But Boehner said that he and Obama had agreed to only $800 billion in new revenue and it was Obama’s insistence that $400 billion more in revenue be added that drove Boehner away.
The group also is at loggerheads over a mechanism that would force Congress to reform the tax code to ensure that all the revenue would be raised, with Republicans calling for a repeal of the individual mandate included in the health care law, according to the White House.
Obama, at a news conference Friday said the proposal was a good deal Republicans, possibly better than it was for Democrats.
“It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal,” Obama said.
Obama said Friday that he would not accept a short term deal that would require another debt ceiling vote before the 2012 elections, but Boehner’s office issued a statement Saturday saying Obama should not tie the debt ceiling to “presidential campaign politics.”