Key Republican pulls out of debt ceiling talks, negotiations on verge of collapse
June 23rd, 2011
02:28 PM ET
3 years ago

Key Republican pulls out of debt ceiling talks, negotiations on verge of collapse

Washington (CNN)-With only weeks to go before the country hits the debt ceiling, bipartisan negotiations were on the verge of collapsing as one of two Congressional Republicans walked away from the talks, and the other was unclear about future discussions.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor withdrew from the negotiations Thursday, saying they had reached an impasse with Democrats over tax issues and it was time for President Obama to get involved to broker a deal that would pave the way for a vote to raise the debt ceiling this summer. Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl said that it would be difficult to continue negotiations with only one Republican at the table.

Talks planned for Thursday afternoon were scrapped after Vice President Joe Biden decided not to attend in light of Cantor’s announcement.

Cantor, who represented the House GOP in the discussions, said "there is not support in the House for a tax increase, and I don’t believe now is the time to raise taxes in light of our current economic situation. Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue."

Cantor called on President Barack Obama to step in. “I believe it is time for the President to speak clearly and resolve the tax issue," he said.

An aide to Kyl told CNN that he also feels that the talks have gone as far as they can go with the players involved and the President now needs to personally get involved.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, one of the House Democrats involved in the meetings, said there was no indication at yesterday’s session that the Republicans would stop participating.

Van Hollen said he learned the news as he was leaving a meeting with the President Thursday morning and was “disappointed.”

“They had been proceeding well although there is no doubt that there were some very difficult issues that needed to be decided,“ Van Hollen told reporters.

The bipartisan group, led by Vice President Biden, has been meeting for weeks behind closed doors to discuss various proposals to cut spending, from both discretionary programs and entitlement programs, such as Medicare. They have released very few details about areas of agreement, but Cantor said the group made significant progress agreeing to trillions in spending cuts, and noted “we have established a blueprint that could institute the fiscal reforms needed to start getting our fiscal house in order.” They had originally hoped to reach some sort of tentative agreement by July 1.

Biden released a written statement Thursday commending the "progress" of the talks thus far.

"Over the past several weeks, the bipartisan debt talks have made significant progress on a blueprint for putting America’s fiscal house in order," he said. "Working together in good faith, we have found many areas of common ground and potential agreement on substantial savings...We have made real headway and laid the groundwork to get this done."

And he had a slightly different view of that progress, saying, "As all of us at the table said at the outset, the goal of these talks was to report our findings back to our respective leaders."

"The next phase is in the hands of those leaders, who need to determine the scope of an agreement that can tackle the problem and attract bipartisan support. For now the talks are in abeyance as we await that guidance. We stand ready to meet again as necessary," he continued.

The group was working toward an agreement that would raise the debt ceiling by more than $2 trillion with an equivalent amount of spending cuts over the next ten years. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he expects the country to reach the debt ceiling by August 2, effectively halting the nation’s ability to borrow money and forcing the government into default on its obligations.

Multiple Democratic sources claim Cantor backed out of the talks because he doesn't want his fingerprints on an agreement that could face opposition from many House Republicans.

Several sources familiar with the bipartisan meeting on Wednesday said that it was incredibly tense and difficult.

Democrats involved in the negotiations have repeatedly said increasing tax revenues, from proposals such as ending subsidies for big oil companies, or companies producing ethanol, should be considered as part of the deal. Van Hollen said there was no justification for opposing those items “if you are serious about reducing the deficit.”

But the Democratic source—who would not speak on the record about the closed talks–said the Republicans in the negotiations have refused to accept any proposals that end any subsidies. "They're not willing to accept a dime of tax increases, we call it closing tax loopholes"

A Republican leadership, who also asked not to be identified, said it was the Democrats holding up progress because they refused to accept major changes to entitlement programs.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell went to the Senate floor and echoed Cantor’s message.

"Either someone on the other side has forgotten that there is strong bipartisan, bipartisan, opposition in Congress to raising taxes or someone is acting in bad faith. We’ve known for some time that tax hikes would be a poison pill to any deficit reduction proposal,” McConnell said.

As Republicans were stressing their position to keep taxes off the table, the Democratic source maintained the GOP was continuing to push for major cuts to programs that they knew Democrats would oppose.

"Republicans want to cut Medicare, Medicaid and education and want deep cuts because they’re unwilling to cut tax loopholes that benefit special interests,” the source said.

Van Hollen warned that those conservative Republicans who were opposing any deal to raise the debt limit were endangering the economy. “One thing that would take a fragile economy and break it would be for the United States to default on its obligations so nobody should be playing a game of political chicken with this issue.”


Filed under: Chris Van Hollen • Congress • Debt • Eric Cantor • Jon Kyl • Republicans
soundoff (205 Responses)
  1. Rollie Fingers

    Good idea, Cantor. If you're a Republican, the last thing you want to do is step on Big Oil's toes. Better to just let this stuff spin out of control and keep your job than actually come up with a solution that could help far more people than it would hurt. This idiotic Social Darwinist approach has got to be shelved. Seriously.

    June 23, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. Just Saying...

    Of course Cantor pulled out of the talks. He does not want the talks to succeed. He wants the talks to fail and the country to go into default. The consequences will be bad. I just hope the majority of the people see where to lay the blame – at the feet of the GOP and Tea Party. They would prefer to see the country fail rather than to see Obama get any credit for succeeding at something. Traitors, everyone of them. Just Saying...

    June 23, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. pritiblond

    This country needs an enema! Flush out every politician that wants to spend more than we bring in. Flush out every welfare leach living off hard working Americans. Flush out every sicko that thinks gayness isn't perversion. Flush out every adulterer and fornicator that thinks a good time in the sack is worth the suffering they cause to family, bass tard children, and the economy.

    June 23, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. Ryan

    Cantor is a joke as the rest of the republicans.

    June 23, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. Chris

    Is this what passes for leadership now? Taking your ball and going home and asking the President to do your work for you?

    June 23, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. pritiblond

    This country needs an enema! Flush out every politician that wants to spend more than we bring in. Flush out every welfare leach living off hard working Americans. Flush out every sicko that thinks gayness isn't perversion. Flush out every adulterer and fornicator that thinks a good time in the sack is worth the suffering they cause to family, bass tard children, and the economy. And kiss my ass CNN if you think this needs moderation.

    June 23, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. Joe

    Cantor's childish behavior is more proof that what the GOP wants more than anything is to sabotage the economy and prevent recovery, so they can blame it on Obama during the campaign next year.

    June 23, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  8. Carrington1

    The problem with raising taxes is that politicians just spend the proceeds, rather than using them to reduce the deficit. The only way to justify cutting spending is for politcians to be able to say to those always present people, with some really worth while cause, that just is no money.

    June 23, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. JimmyNelson

    i wish he would bolt from congress..

    June 23, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. Rob in MO

    The Simpson/Boyles commission recommended spending cuts and INCREASED TAXES to address the budget crisis. Republicans are more interested in serving their wealthy patrons than creating jobs or reducing the deficit. Cantor is a clown.

    June 23, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Cantor called on President Barack Obama to step in. “I believe it is time for the President to speak clearly and resolve the tax issue," he said."

    Translation: "I had a horse head in my bed when I got home last night,but I'm bnot sure which rich family or corporation put it there. See, my corporate masters have told me we're not allowed to blow up the economy by causing the nation to default on its debts, so the Dems have the upper hand and are probably going to get their increased revenue and the debt ceiling is eventually going to be raised without default. Therefore, we've decided that we're going to stomp our feet and throw a tantrum demanding that Obama put himself in a position for us to blame him for the debt ceiling increase and what we will call 'tax increases' in hopes it helps us in 2012."

    June 23, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. ConservaFASCISTS

    These conservaFASCISTS are purposelly trying to tank the economy solely for political purposes. They should be ashamed of themselves. What they are doing is no different than TREASON. They have yet to introduce a jobs bill and they are against bills that they were once for. This is not the time for politics!!!!

    June 23, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. RM

    Appoint a five member committee chaired by Donald Trump to make a decision. Other members, Jack Wech, Jamie Dimon, Steve Jobs and Oprah WInfrey. Send US Congress home...we don't need the drama....am tired of this BS.

    June 23, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. Joe from Ohio

    I feel the Republicans truly have my best interests at heart and not the interests of corporations. I do, I really do. No seriously, I do......okay, no I don't...

    June 23, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Brian DC

    Biden lead budget talks? Oxymoron. Cantor actually displayed patience in staying as long as he did listening to that blathering bafoon named Joe Biden.

    June 23, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  16. George

    Mitch McConnell definition of strong bipartisan opposition is that the far right-wing and the not so far right-wing are in opposition.
    Cut tax loop holes like Reagan did, reset tax rates to pre-Bush cuts and slash spending or just keep spending to last years limits, or 2006 limits.
    A plan that will actually work is one that has both spending cuts and increased tax revenues.

    June 23, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  17. Jib76

    Unfortunately, Rep. Eric Cantor has withdrawn from the US federal budget talks with VP Joe Biden because he won't agree to tax increases. Tax cuts, according to Republicans, create jobs. But why have we lost 16 million jobs from 2007-2011 when there were the Pres. George W Bush tax cuts and they were even extended by Pres. Barrak Obama? Actually, tax cuts cost jobs. Tax increases, like during Pres. Bill Clknton's administration, create tens-of-millions of jobs. Also, the wealthiest 1% of Americans – its millionaires or billionaires – wealth grew tremendously from 2007-2011 under Bush and Obama. CEO salaries increased 36% then. But we lost 16 million jobs then. So does wealth create jobs? Obviously not. The top 1% of Americans hold more than half (50%) of the net household wealth in AMerica. These are our millionaires and billionaires. What are they going to do with all of this money? Take it into the afterlife?

    June 23, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  18. Gothaze

    It is very clear that Repubs want to control public interest in this issue. Gridlock or walking away from negotiations is just another form of fillabustering. The plan to keep the economy stagnent and show nominal growth only benefits those who can trade in this economy of inflation and flatline wages. However playing the same games at this stage will only continue to hold the economy at bay. People are wising up to this stragedy. Even as oil prices fall, whisg dictates consumer confidence

    June 23, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. TJC

    In other words they want Obama to arbitrate because they know he will "cave" like he has on everything else. if Obama had demanded that taxes for the rich be put back where they were pre-Bush the country would be a lot better off. That one will lose him a lot of votes. Possibly mine.

    June 23, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  20. Alan

    Once again,
    GOP a/h's driving this country to the brink....the wealthy (top 10%) pay less income tax than in 1928. Bush and his cronies destroyed the economy with their policies and want to continue to do more damage to what's left of middle America..at the same time they defend billions in corporate welfare for big oil, big pharma and big banks........they should be tried for treason

    June 23, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. Jason, Chicago IL

    ... and that's why this entire discussion is going nowhere fast. Republican leadership does not want to hear about taxes, even though we're supposedly in the midst of a terrible crisis, and it's a crisis that was caused in part by a mad dash for tax cuts that were never paired with spending cuts.

    Until every one involved has a true "come to Jesus" moment and realizes that there's no easy or pleasant way out of this mess, it won't be fixed. There are going to be cuts to Social Security. There are going to be cuts to medicare. There are going to be cuts to the military. There are going to be tax increases. Or else, there are going to be an awful lot of people on both sides of the aisle who are looking for new jobs next year.

    June 23, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  22. RG

    Obama compromises so easily with Republicans, they feel he is one of their own now. Obama should run as a Republican in 2012.

    June 23, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  23. Knucklehead

    Fools go where angels fear to tread... These Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot...

    June 23, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. Bill from GA

    Maybe it is time for our President to get on TV and tell Americans how he ruined any chance of working out a compromise solution with the low-life repugs when he gave (caved??) in to the repug demands for extending all tax cuts. Explain how the worthless repugs are now holding the future of the USA hostage in order to preserve tax cuts for wealthy Americans and businesses drowning in profits. Tell Americans that it is now up to the individual to contact their Senators and Representatives and tell them that our future is doomed without some compromise from the conservatives.

    Come on, Barry, do it for America. We need you!!

    June 23, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  25. Four and The Door

    Van Hollen warned that those conservative Republicans who were opposing any deal to raise the debt limit were endangering the economy.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________
    The fact is, the debt ceiling currently in place was signed by President Barack Obama. What is his excuse for spending that will exceed this debt limit? Can't blame that on GWB, can you?

    Tax increases are not a plan. They need to get government spending in control, just like American families and businesses have been doing for the last 3 years. The government has been too far removed from the realities of 2011 that those of us outside of Washington DC have dealt with.

    The Republicans have presented a workable plan. I support that 100% over a non-plan.

    June 23, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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