Obama-GOP Debt Talks Get Tense At White House

Tensions rose to the boiling point at a White House summit on the debt ceiling and budget talks on Wednesday, with House Republicans accusing President Barack Obama of abruptly walking out and Democrats painting GOP leaders as incalcitrant and irresponsible.

Republican and Democratic officials offered contrasting versions of an exchange between Obama and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the end of the meeting.

By Cantor's account, the president said that he "had sat there long enough and no other president, Ronald Reagan wouldn't sit here like this, and that he's reached the point that something's gotta give."

"And he said to me, 'Eric, don't call my bluff,'" Cantor said. "He said, 'I'm going to the American people with this.'"

Cantor and GOP aides said the president left the room abruptly.

Democrats quickly disputed that, saying the president just closed the meeting and told the negotiators he would seem them on Thursday for a fifth straight day of talks.

"Cantor's account of tonight's meeting is completely overblown," one aide said, claiming that Cantor repeatedly interrupted Obama. The aide said House Speaker John Boehner should rein in Cantor.

What's clear is that Wednesday's meeting brought both sides little closer to a solution to averting an unprecedented government default threatened for Aug. 2. According to NBC News, Obama reportedly told Cantor and Boehner that he's been "willing to compromise," but hasn't seen the same from Republicans.

Cantor reportedly called for a short-term deal to avert a crisis, while Obama pushed back hard for more comprehensive solution, a Democratic aide said.

Aides on both sides said Obama threatened a veto of any short-term extension.

Earlier, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warned fellow conservatives that failure to raise the U.S. debt limit would probably ensure Obama's re-election in 2012, providing fresh evidence of deep GOP political divisions on an issue of paramount importance to the nation and its economy.

At the same time, Moody's Investors Service announced it was reviewing the U.S. bond rating for a possible downgrade, a change that could lead to higher interest rates for many Americans. Moody's cited a "rising possibility that the statutory debt limit will not be raised on a timely basis."

At the Capitol, rank-and-file lawmakers advanced their own fallback measures in case the bipartisan compromise talks fail.

One version, authored by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., was designed to make sure Social Security benefits are paid on time. Another, unveiled by a trio of House conservatives, would give priority to paychecks for members of the armed forces.

"Currently, there is not a single debt limit proposal that can pass the House of Representatives," Cantor said in a written statement before Wednesday night's meeting. He said efforts should focus on "what we can agree upon" rather than Democratic demands for raising taxes or GOP calls to repeal the year-old health care bill.

Without an increase in government borrowing authority by Aug. 2, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has warned, there could be a default posing a catastrophic risk to the economy, still recovering from the worst recession in decades.

In a sobering reminder of the stakes, the Treasury Department announced that the federal deficit was on pace to exceed $1 trillion for the third consecutive year, and was likely to top last year's $1.29 trillion.

Moody's released its announcement after the U.S. financial markets had closed for the day, and cited fears of a default on U.S. Treasury debt obligations. Six weeks ago, the firm had announced that a rating review would be likely in mid-July unless there was meaningful progress in negotiations to raise the debt limit.

In a radio interview on the Laura Ingraham Show, McConnell predicted that if Congress fails to act, Obama will argue "that Republicans are making the economy worse and try to convince the public, maybe with some merit, if people start not getting their Social Security checks and military families start getting letters saying their service people overseas don't get paid."

"You know it's an argument he has a good chance of winning, and all of a sudden we (Republicans) have co-ownership of a bad economy. That is a very bad positioning going into an election," he said.

McConnell said his first choice was to reach a good compromise with Obama.

Short of that, "my second obligation is to my party ... to prevent them from being sucked into a horrible position politically that would allow the president probably to get re-elected because we didn't handle this difficult situation correctly."

At the meeting Wednesday night, Obama backhandedly praised McConnell for "at least presenting a plan" to raise the debt ceiling. "Now, he wants me to wear the jacket," Obama said, referring to taking responsibility for raising the ceiling. "And I'm willing to wear it."

At least in part, McConnell's comments were a rebuttal to conservatives who criticized his proposal on Tuesday to let Obama raise the debt limit without a vote of Congress.

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called that idea an "an irresponsible surrender to big government, big deficits and continued overspending," and Ingraham said she had received emails from conservative listeners likening McConnell to Pontius Pilate.

The Republican lawmaker brushed aside the biblical reference. But without mentioning Gingrich by name, he referred to two government shutdowns of 1995 that the one-time House speaker engineered in hopes of winning deep spending cuts from a Democratic president.

The tactic backfired politically on Gingrich and the Republicans, and benefited President Bill Clinton.

A decade and a half later, some Republicans have set out on what could be a similar course on the debt limit, demanding huge deficit cuts — and no tax increases — as the price for approving an increase in borrowing authority.

Some Democrats couldn't resist the temptation to jab at them.

"You have the Republicans who walked out of the Biden talks. You have the speaker of the House who's close to entering into a framework agreement with the president of the United State walk out because other Republicans in the House undercut him," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., a participant in the talks led by Vice President Joe Biden.

"And now you have Republicans trashing a proposal put forward by the Republican leader in the Senate."

Despite an extraordinary commitment of time, the private talks at the White House have made little if any progress since Obama presided the first session on Sunday.

House Republicans said they would press the president in Wednesday's meeting to outline a deficit-prediction plan of his own.

Obama has said he is willing to take criticism from within his own party over program cuts in order to achieve a significant reduction in future deficits. But he also wants higher taxes that Republicans at the table say are unacceptable.

In advance of the day's meeting, officials said the negotiators would probably turn their attention to cuts that had been proposed in the earlier negotiations in the Capitol led by Biden. Participants in those talks disagree about precisely how much they had agreed to, however, and it was unclear what the prospects were for agreement.

With hopes for a bipartisan deal dimmed, backup proposals proliferated.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has not rejected McConnell's proposal, and officials say he is developing one of his own to create a commission that could recommend deficit cuts and be assured that Congress would vote on them.

Nelson's proposal was designed to ensure that Social Security recipients receive their checks in the event of a default, mandating that the program's obligations no longer count against the overall debt limit.

He acted one day after Obama cautioned that he could not guarantee the checks would go out if there was a default.

On the other side of the Capitol, Republican Reps. Steve King of Iowa, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a presidential candidate, said if the debt ceiling is reached, the Treasury should fund pay any allowances for members of the Armed Forces first and obligations on the public debt second, ahead of all other expenses.

Congressional Republicans have had a relatively muted response to McConnell's debt limit proposal. Privately, though, conservative lawmakers have been critical, accusing him of giving up the leverage the GOP has to force Obama into making deep spending cuts as the price for an increase in the debt limit.

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  • by AMD on Jul 20, 2011 at 06:47 PM
    Salary of the US President. ..$400,000 Salary of retired US Presidents ...$180,000 Salary of House/Senate...$174,000 Salary of Speaker of the House.. .$223,500 Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders... $193,400 Average Salary of a Soldier deployed in Iraq / Afghanistan.... $38,000 I think we found where the cuts should be made!
  • by Eileen Location: NC on Jul 18, 2011 at 08:58 PM
    Rebuttal to - 48 Year Republican on Jul 18, 2011 at 09:43 PM in 1956-2004. But, I couldn't take the embarrassment anymore and have been an Independant ever since. What? - No American voter is forced to vote Democrat or Republican. We are all independents!
    • reply
      by 48 year Republican on Jul 19, 2011 at 02:01 AM in reply to Eileen
      Eileen, I was a REGISTERED Republican. I guess I should have made that clear for you, although it seemed rather obvious. I was embarrassed because our President was a C student who could barely read a teleprompter and couldn't enunciate "nuclear", among many other words. He seemed, well, just not too bright. Just imagine what the rest of the world must have thought of our "leader". I'm sure, as an "independant", you were a strong supporter. And, for what it's worth, I've NEVER voted a straight ticket. Any moron can do that, and many do. It takes no brains whatsoever. I prefer to judge each candidate individually, and unfortunately, I often have to vote between the lesser of two evils. At least I can do it with a good conscience.
      • reply
        by Doubt It on Jul 19, 2011 at 03:34 PM in reply to 48 year Republican
        I seriously doubt you ever voted Republican or ever considered yourself a republican. Your posts and responses to others posts say otherwise. Try to put that liberal spin on everything if you like but the truth prevails in your wording.
        • reply
          by To "Doubt It" on Jul 19, 2011 at 06:30 PM in reply to Doubt It
          My parents were Democrats who switched parties before I was born. I was raised in a Republican household. And although I was certainly more moderate than my parents, I still voted predominately Republican (80-90%, estimate) every election until 2004. When I looked at THAT ballot, after completing it, I saw that I had voted for 13 Democrats and 12 Republicans. It was then that I realized that I truly was an independant and might as well face it. There are millions more like me. They call themselves conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans. What I can't quite figure out is why the radical wings of each party get all the press and therefore dominate our choices in each national election. I wasn't too impressed with Bush in 2000, but I voted for him. Why? Because the Dems gave me Gore as an alternative. It was my last "lesser of two evils" vote for the presidency. In retrospect, I wish I had done what I've done in each of the past two elections. I voted for myself for President. If our two party system is going to keep giving me these same kinds of choices, I'll probably never cast my vote for an extremist candidate again, not on EITHER side of the aisle. I am squarely in the middle, agreeing with the policies of either party on some issues and disagreeing with them BOTH on many more. People like me are the new "silent majority". I pray that we'll have a legitimate candidate that represents some sort of balance before my lifetime is over. I must admit, however, that the chances seem slim with the media being so biased in each direction.
        • reply
          by To Doubt it on Jul 19, 2011 at 08:19 PM in reply to Doubt It
          One more thing. You say I put a liberal spin on everything. Well, it only seems that way to you and your "far right wing" brothers and sisters. If someone isn't "ultra-conservative" in your book, then they're a liberal. You couldn't be more wrong.
      • reply
        by ECU student on Jul 20, 2011 at 10:18 PM in reply to 48 year Republican
        at least he knew that there weren't 57 states unlike our current president.
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil Co on Jul 21, 2011 at 04:28 PM in reply to ECU student
          I agree with Doubt it and I am registered democrat 30 years running. So save that story for a fool...the rest of us know better, we have read your posts before.
  • by AMD on Jul 18, 2011 at 07:31 PM
    Bush tax cuts: $544.3 billion…The bulk of that cost — $463 billion — is for the extension of cuts for families making less than $250,000, including two years of relief for 2010 and 2011 for the middle class from the Alternative Minimum Tax. The rest — $81.5 billion — is attributable to the extension of cuts that apply to the highest income families. In other words, 85% of the tax cuts went to the middle class. Yes money did go to the wealthy but as you can see, 85% went to the working Americans. Why doesnt this say anything about the lower class? Because they DONT PAY TAXES. This article is from CNN money also, not the evil FOX news network. And by the way these figures are from this years tax cuts that the Democrats didnt want.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 18, 2011 at 11:06 PM in reply to AMD
      AMD I agree with you. Also consider that if the dems taxed millioniars and billioniars 100% or in other words took EVERYTHING they owned it still would not pay off 14 trillion in debt. It's just a democrat ploy to fool the poor into thinking obama is forcing the rich to pay more. They already pay most of the taxes to government now.
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Jul 18, 2011 at 01:33 PM
    Read This - Here is the Obama joke - Obama was very much against raising the Debt Ceiling. From Sen. Obama’s Floor Speech, March 20, 2006: The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. " Whow sounds like Obama just called himself a failure without leadership " At the time, Senator Obama was urging Congress not to tolerate an increase that would bring the debt ceiling to $9 trillion. Under President Obama, the debt ceiling has been raised to $14.3 trillion. Even without counting most unfunded liabilities, the national debt is now calculated to be nearing $14.1 trillion. It increases about $4.22 billion per day (each citizen’s share stands at roughly $45K). Thus, Democrats will soon demand that the debt ceiling be raised, lest the sky fall. When they do, they will be asking for a significant boost in a ceiling that is already 60 percent higher than the one Barack Obama said was “a sign of leadership failure” five years ago.
    • reply
      by To Wolfgang on Jul 18, 2011 at 04:18 PM in reply to Wolfgang
      Yes, Wolfgang, it was for "posturing". Obama and all the Senate knew the votes were there to pass the debt ceiling! There is a difference in making a legitimate stand and actually causing an economic catastrophe. Too bad you and rest of these "I'm committed to Norquist" crowd don't have enough sense to know that.
    • reply
      by Susan on Jul 18, 2011 at 07:06 PM in reply to Wolfgang
      Very well said Wolfgang. Those who support Obama just refuse to accept the facts and will twist those facts in order back him even though he is a proven failure.
  • by 'nuff said on Jul 18, 2011 at 11:47 AM
    Nixon raised the debt ceiling 9 times for a total increase of 36%. Ford raised the debt ceiling 5 times for a total increase of 41%. Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times for a total increase of 199%. George H.W. Bush raised the debt ceiling 9 times for a total increase of 48%. George W. Bush raised the debt ceiling 7 times for a total increase of 90%. That was Ok. Was that because THEY were republicans?"
    • reply
      by Obama Snake Oil Co on Jul 18, 2011 at 03:28 PM in reply to 'nuff said
      Wrong, all lies. I suggest you not post Huffingtonpost hooey as it is made up for sucker....
      • reply
        by 48 Year Republican on Jul 18, 2011 at 06:43 PM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
        Well, OSOC, you SHOULD be an authority on lies, but I doubt that you have ANY idea if those facts are true or not. (Btw, I was a Republican from 1956-2004. But, I couldn't take the embarrassment anymore and have been an Independant ever since.)
        • reply
          by Puh-Leez on Jul 19, 2011 at 06:12 AM in reply to 48 Year Republican
          And I doubt that you were ever a real republican at all, you must have just been a "poser". Your hatred for GW Bush says it all.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jul 19, 2011 at 10:09 AM in reply to 48 Year Republican
          To Puh-Leeze...Why would he be a 'poser' for 'hating' Bush Jr? He wasn't well liked towards the end of his term by his own party, this was very evident during the election of 2008. How many times did you see Bush campaign for McCain/Palin? The Republicans distanced themselves from Bush as much as they could. He just wasn't very popular, and wasn't all that good a leader. I'm sure he could have done worse, but he was nothing special. There's also plenty of reason to dislike him in general if you're against the war in Iraq, which many were and still are.
        • reply
          by Puh-Leez on Jul 19, 2011 at 11:48 AM in reply to 48 Year Republican
          I stand by my opinion, thanks.
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil co on Jul 21, 2011 at 04:33 PM in reply to 48 Year Republican
          Thanks, I am an authority on lies and who tells them. That is why I go to Huffington hooey and mediamush matters, to see what they post and check them out. 99% spin off of the real story as they get paid by Soros to do. However, you lack of intelligence to research this and be aware of the truth doesn't constitute further response on my part.....
  • by Anonymous on Jul 18, 2011 at 07:11 AM
    And on the other side. August 9, 2007 Journal Wire Service "Bush say markets will make 'soft landing'. President Bush struck a reassuring tone Wednesday about recent turbulence on Wall Street, saying he believes the markets will work their way through the turmoil safely and achieve a soft landing." Bush, in his most extensive remarks on a gyrating stock market that has sent investors on a rollercoaster ride, expressed confidence that investors would eventually calm down. The president said he expects investors to reassess their risk and begin to focus on the economy's fundamentals, which he said are solid and sound. Investors are concerned about a worsening housing slump and possibly a widening credit crunch --an uneasiness of recent weeks that they fear could permeate the financial system and the national economy." Next topic, "AIG profits jump 34 percent.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 18, 2011 at 08:12 AM in reply to Anonymous
      If you havent realized it yet, Bush is no longer president. What does this comment have to do with this story?
    • reply
      by Obama Snake Oil Co on Jul 18, 2011 at 03:36 PM in reply to Anonymous
      So the opinion of CBS news makes you think this was said or even true? Wrong again.
    • reply
      by David on Jul 18, 2011 at 09:31 PM in reply to Anonymous
      Crazy - Anonymous on Jul 18, 2011 at 10:11 AM - Next topic, "AIG profits jump 34 % when ,what date? What's is AIG'S stock price today? You have know idea.
  • by Political Science Student Location: NC on Jul 18, 2011 at 05:31 AM
    Rebuttal to Diego lets print the full story - WASHINGTON — Uncle Sam's tax take this year will be the lowest since 1950. American families and businesses will pay less in federal taxes than they did thanks to a weak economy and a growing number of tax breaks for the wealthy and the poor. Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13% lower than in 2008. Corporate tax receipts will be lower by a third, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The poor economy is largely to blame. But so is a tax code that grows each year with new deductions, credits and exemptions. The result is that families making as much as $50,000 can avoid paying federal income taxes, if they have at least two dependent children. Low-income families can actually make a profit by filing an income tax return, and the wealthy can significantly cut their payments. In the next few years, many can expect to pay more in taxes. Some increases were enacted as part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. And many states have raised taxes because — unlike the federal government — they have to balance their budgets each year. State tax receipts are projected to increase in all but 7 states this year. Tax receipts dropped sharply in 2009 as the economy sank into recession. They have since stabilized and are expected to grow 3% this year. However - A married couple with two children, including one in college, and a combined income of $50,000 would pay no federal income taxes, instead getting a payment of $734 from the government this year. However, they did better in 2008, when they netted a $1,234 payment from the government. That's because Obama's Making Work Pay credit was worth less to them than the G W Bush-era economic stimulus payment they received in 2008
    • reply
      by Puh-Leez on Jul 18, 2011 at 07:08 AM in reply to Political Science Student
      Well done, this demonstrates the danger of promoting an agenda that is anti-small business growth. Fewer people employed=less revenue from income=bad economy. Also, this clearly makes the point that the majority of low to middle income families pay little to zero federal taxes after they file each year.
      • reply
        by To Puh-Leez on Jul 18, 2011 at 04:21 PM in reply to Puh-Leez
        No, this demonstrates that the Republican's stand on taxes is not based on history or facts! No history supports their claim and "high taxes" is a flat out lie!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jul 18, 2011 at 11:13 PM in reply to To Puh-Leez
          anyone with any common sense knows that higher taxes PUNISH those who produce goods, those who make a profit, those who keep people employeed.... higher taxes rarely hurt the poor. A poor individual earns what... $ 22,000/year so without going in debt he can't spend over $ 22,000. A small business can spend upwards of a million. Guess who's paying more taxes ? yeah, the businesses.
        • reply
          by Puh-Leez on Jul 19, 2011 at 06:16 AM in reply to To Puh-Leez
          No your revisionist history paints the picture you want to believe.
    • reply
      by ECU student on Jul 20, 2011 at 10:27 PM in reply to Political Science Student
      So you admit that the main reason tax income will be lower this year is because people are making less money but you want to counter that by increasing taxes? So although people make less they will have to pay more. That sounds like a great way to fix the economy. Also your numbers are way off. I am guessing you got them from some liberal blog
  • by David Location: NC on Jul 17, 2011 at 09:53 AM
    Wolfgang - Strange why most minorities vote Democratic. With the Democratic party was & is so racist , against minorities? James Strom Thurmond (December 5, 1902 – June 26, 2003) was an American politician who served as a United States Senator. He also ran for the Presidency of the United States in 1948 as the " Segregationist States Rights Democratic Party " (Dixiecrat) candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 18, 2011 at 05:14 AM in reply to David
      Turmond didn't get elected either..LOL
    • reply
      by Puh-Leez on Jul 18, 2011 at 07:12 AM in reply to David
      Ahhh, let's not forget Senator Robert Byrd, (D)West Virginia, career politician, loved by his folks in WV for all the "bacon" he brought to his state each year, also former Grand Wizard of the KKK.
    • reply
      by To David on Jul 18, 2011 at 04:24 PM in reply to David
      Look up Dixiecrat! They were the Democrats who split with the Democratic party over the Civil Rights Act. ie-the racist Democrats-and good riddance! Just as someone on here tried to use George Wallace. Yes, he ran as a Dem.-until integration-then he became an "Independent". Those no longer welcomed by the Democrats found wonderful homes with the Republicans!
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Jul 16, 2011 at 09:19 PM
    George Corley Wallace, Jr. (August 25, 1919 – September 13, 1998) was the 45th Governor of Alabama, serving four terms: 1963–1967, 1971–1979 and 1983–1987. He ran for U.S. president four times, running officially as a " Democrat "
    • reply
      by To Wolfgang on Jul 17, 2011 at 07:13 AM in reply to Wolfgang
      He ran for U.S. President as a Democrat 3, three times! The last time, he ran as an Independent! How convenient for you to leave that out-LOL!!!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jul 18, 2011 at 05:02 AM in reply to To Wolfgang
        That's not all -He confessed his bogtry and racism before he died. And something no one has mentioned, that is new worthy-he never got elected so here's your L O L !
        • reply
          by Otis on Jul 18, 2011 at 07:15 AM in reply to
          Anonymous get a history book George Wallace was a State Governor thats elected to me,and who eleced him the racist people!
  • by diego Location: Gville on Jul 16, 2011 at 12:34 AM
    Taxes are currently at the lowest since the 1950s. If lower taxes created jobs, we would be swimming in jobs. It simply isn't true.
    • reply
      by Lucy on Jul 17, 2011 at 04:07 AM in reply to diego
      Diego you most work under the table. Or you have not looked or understand at your Federal & State taxes taken out of your pay check every week?. Give me the truth without the spin like propery taxes have not gone up since 1950?
      • reply
        by To Lucy on Jul 17, 2011 at 08:21 PM in reply to Lucy
        Since property taxes are local, Diego would be talking about Fed. income taxes and he is right! Income taxes are lower than they have been since the 1950's. The dollar figure may be more because it is a %!
      • reply
        by Diego on Jul 18, 2011 at 04:40 AM in reply to Lucy
        I am talking about the public tax burden. Property taxes do not come out of your pay check, and are not federal. This article is about Federal taxes.
        • reply
          by Puh-Leez on Jul 19, 2011 at 06:19 AM in reply to Diego
          If you feel under-taxed, then no one is stopping you from contributing more to the treasury. I challenge you to put your money where your mouth is...
    • reply
      by Puh-Leez on Jul 19, 2011 at 06:22 AM in reply to diego
      Lower CORPORATE tax rates create jobs. You are arguing against the wrong tax rate. The US currently has high corporate tax rates, which pushes corporations to set up shop elsewhere in the world.

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