We are beginning to support the idea of NO deal except to raise the debt ceiling until the 2012 elections – give us all a chance to elect more Dems into the House and Senate and regain majority (and not just any Dems, but ones who will stand with the people and defend Medicare, Medicaid, etc.). Then a deal will be a REAL deal to move the country forward on real values!
Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama began holding separate meetings Wednesday with top congressional Democrats and Republicans as part of ongoing talks on a measure that would raise the nation’s debt ceiling by August 2 to avoid a government default.
Top Democrats from both chambers began their meeting with the president just before 3 p.m., according to a White House official speaking on condition of not being identified. Later, the top two House Republicans — Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor — will meet with Obama at 5 p.m., White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed.
At his daily briefing, Carney signaled to reporters that Obama would be willing to accept a short-term increase in the debt ceiling — which caps the amount of money the government can borrow — if it is tied to agreement by both parties on a broader deficit reduction deal that he seeks.
Obama previously rejected such a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, and Carney’s remarks sought to bolster support for a compromise in the talks as the deadline for default nears.
“We believe a short-term extension absent an agreement to a larger deal is unacceptable,” Carney said.
He later issued a statement on the matter that said Obama opposes a short-term extension of the debt limit, but “the only exception to that is in the event that both sides reach a deal on a long-term extension of the debt limit plus significant deficit reduction, and we needed a very short-term extension (like a few days) to allow a bit of extra time for a bill to work its way through the legislative process.”
The White House meetings come a day after Senate negotiators from both parties, the so-called “Gang of Six,” unveiled the possible compromise plan. It also follows passage by the House of a tea party inspired “cut, cap and balance” bill dismissed by Obama and Democrats.
After the House passed the bill on a 234-190 vote Tuesday night, almost completely along party lines, Obama discussed the deficit reduction issue over the phone in separate calls with Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Carney said.
Key administration and congressional officials are currently focused on the new bipartisan $3.7 trillion debt reduction plan by the Gang of Six — the latest effort to avoid a potentially catastrophic default next month on the federal government’s financial obligations.
Obama has offered strong praise for the initiative, calling it “broadly consistent” with his own approach to debt reduction because it mixes tax changes, entitlement reforms and spending reductions. However, Carney made clear Wednesday that Obama was not adopting the Gang of Six plan outright, and that further negotiations on specific provisions would be necessary.
Senate Democratic leaders have expressed skepticism that they will be able to increase the debt limit and pass the Gang of Six plan by the looming August 2 deadline.
If Congress fails to raise the current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by that date, Americans could face rising interest rates, a declining dollar and increasingly jittery financial markets, among other problems.
The seriousness of the overall situation was reinforced last week when a major credit rating agency, Standard and Poor’s, said it was placing the United States’ sovereign rating on “CreditWatch with negative implications.” Another major agency — Moody’s Investors Services — said it would put America’s bond rating on review for a possible downgrade.
The House Republicans’ “cut, cap and balance” bill would raise the debt ceiling while imposing strict caps on all future federal spending and making it significantly tougher to raise taxes — the solution favored by hard-line conservatives.
The bill — which also requires Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution before raising the debt ceiling — has little chance of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate or surviving a certain presidential veto. The vote did, however, allow rank-and-file Republicans to clearly demonstrate their preference for steps favored by many in the tea party movement even as their leadership seeks a middle ground with Democrats.