Key Republican pulls out of debt ceiling talks, negotiations on verge of collapse
June 23rd, 2011
02:28 PM ET
12 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. Thankfully Independent

    If the talks fail, it will have been Boehner's fault for delegating Cantor. Eric is just not up to the job of negotiating.

    June 23, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. logic in LA

    More game playing! Sit down – do your jobs or don't get paid! Walking away like children is not acceptable.
    The first thing you do is RAISE taxes! No business that needs money cuts its prices. We have nothing to put on sale . All we can do is raise money to pay our debts.
    This is a simple thing. Grow up congress!

    June 23, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  3. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    were opposing any deal to raise the debt limit were endangering the economy.
    And this clueless Democrat thinks taking more money for the government helps the economy? I guess he didn't see the continuous stream on new unemployment numbers that are always over 400,000 every week. Democrats simply refuse to stop spending this country into bankruptcy. No matter how much they take, they always spend more. Enough is enough! Sending more andmore money to Washington DC is simply enabling the Democrat spending addicts.

    It is clear the economy will NOT get any better with Democrats controlling the Senate and Whitehouse. They have no clue on how to run a STABLE ENVIRONMENT which produces CONFIDENCE and GROWTH. At this point these idiots have spooked the entire business community with their far left progressive plans, laws and tax hikes.

    June 23, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  4. Al-NY,NY

    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.

    In other words, "Obama must come in and convince them to no tax increases" Sorry Cantor but YOU and your party are going to be held responsible if it expires. The old "Waaa Waaa. You aren't playing fair so we're taking our ball home" routine is not gonna fly. YOU need to get it in your head that absolute refusal to even deal with taxes is not what people want. But who expects you to understand? You are being held prisoner by the T-Pers and the media hogs (tubby Limpy ad the rest) so wake up to reality and deal with it

    June 23, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. realitybites

    Yet another idealog quitter. Sick of them. Can't get your way so you walk out and quit. Don't know about y'all but, when i was growing up that was called being a big baby, sore loser. Cantor is worried that if he agrees to cutting subsidies and tax loopholes to his fat cat corporate contributors (oh I'm sorry individual doaners as decided by the supreme court) he might lose his seat in his next primary. Lets not forget that the public getting tired of this crap and also is losing their appetite for the Republican Tidal Wave that ushered in a new school of Grumpy-No Jeasus Freak fish. Get something done for Christ's sake. We're starving out here and you want to play w/ our well being as if you were running for Middle School student council. We're not friggin fighting over whether we'll sell M&M's or popcorn for the band boosters, idiot!!!

    June 23, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. denice

    Eric Cantor is one of the most radical,corporate interest motivated,women hater,education busting Morons in congress!!! This guy is "Seriously Dangerous" for America! He is a racist,and a Corporate thug trying to bring down the "Middleclass and Education for our Youth!!!! Can anybody explain "This ruthless,insensitive, creep? Right,Radical,Extremism,at it,s worst?????

    June 23, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. Ken, AZ

    It is clear that republicans are trying to use the "Starve the beast" strategy of Ronald Reagan in these negotions. Their goal is to eliminate any and all social programs and leave the American people at the mercy of the rich and powerful. Perhaps we could take a chanc with the free market, if it were fair, but it isn't. We would quickly become a third world country where the many are ruled by the few.

    June 23, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  8. Bill

    If this fails and the ceiling is not raised, the GOP will pay dearly at the polls. And we wil all pay as our economy falls apart.

    June 23, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  9. angrygal

    Two and a half years ago, spending was increased to supposedly stimulate us through this recession. Now that is assumed to be the baseline and unwillingness to cut that back. Instead, they would rather raise taxes. To make us all feel better, they try to make us all feel that it won't affect us by saying "tax the wealthy". Anyone who thinks this won't affect them is just plain wrong.

    June 23, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  10. Angie

    Great, the little Teapublican brat takes his ball and walks away from the playground. So what if the US economy tanks, he'll stick by his rigid ideology and go down with the ship. Better dead than red, better tanked than taxed. Who needs foreign enemies when the US has its own in Washington D.C.'s Teapublican ranks?

    June 23, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. DA

    The GOP is so transparent it is ridiculous, this is just a tactic to use so that, they get the President evolved and when they still don't come up with a plan they blame him for the whole thing. I mean really at what point will the people of this Country come to realize the GOP are as they say UN-AMERICAN TO THE CORE!! I mean seriously, they want to take back the White House so bad they will sacrifice doing what is right for the good of the Country? I mean Really?

    June 23, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. Jim

    Another quitter in the GOP. He should enjoy the company of Palin, the quitter queen.

    June 23, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. Marie MD

    who in virginia voged for this horse's behind? and then we have kyl (the 98% vs 3% liar of planned parenthood).
    the rethugs are blackmailing the country, not just the President, because not only do they want him to fail they want to "empower" grandma and they want to make sure they get their way on everything, not just this, that is againsg the vanishing middle class and the poor.

    June 23, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. Bill from GA

    Is there any relation between the current stock market fall and the break-down in debt ceiling talks? Maybe Wall Street could rein in the mad-dog, Cantor.

    With all the mindless polling done by CNN and all of the others, maybe we need a poll on whether a tax increase is favored over destructive cuts to so-called entitlements.

    June 23, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. lforlegend

    Look at the many voters who were duped by this terroristic-thinkng bunch of hypocrites. We ought to feel sorry for them, but they got what they voted for. They promised jobs, but they haven't delivered on that promise, they only want to destroy the fabric of this country.

    June 23, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on America!

    Cantor is just another sleazy GOBPbaggin' Kochwhore. Raise taxes on the filthy rich instead of bowing to their every whim. Our country will be much better off when that happens.

    June 23, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  17. DumbasRocks [R]s

    This is beyond moronic. But what do you expect from die-hard [R] Teatards? The [R]s are attempting to run this country right into an economic wall, all so they can stay true to their empty rightwing dogma and then say "See? Obama failed. Told you so."

    And when the wall is hit, and all you deluded neo-wonks start mindlessly blathering blame on the [D]s, try for once to grab a piece of reality and know that YOUR [R] party FAILED America. FAILED YOU and YOUR families. Becasue at that point, it'll be me saying "I told YOU so!"

    June 23, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  18. janelle

    It takes two to play chicken. If the Dems are truly so very worried about this matter, then they could just agree to the cuts and it would be over with. Also, gotta love how this article attributes all these "quotes" to a source who wouldn't talk on the record. It's off the record, but still in print. And, I love how it glossed off what Canter had to say about it's time to get the President involved. He didn't say he's done with this, he said it's time to quit playing around with the JV, get the Varsity on the floor so we can get it done once and for all. Except, that President Obama doesn't want to be involved, he wants to hide behind Biden and other underlings so he doesn't have to be on the record with having made any kind of decision.

    June 23, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. Republicans - The "Not Intended To Be Factually Accurate" - Party

    We have 435 members in the House of Representatives. They each earn $170,000 per year. That is $74M in payroll. Under Republican Speaker John Boehner, the House is RESPONSIBLE for putting together a budget and keeping us from defaulting on our financial obligations.

    So when the entity that earns $74M / year DOES NOT DO ITS JOB Congressman Cantor wants to add this reponsibility to the one adult in the room that makes $400,000 a year. Sounds like the Do-Nothing Congress is back under Republican control [can't use the word leadership because they don't exhibit any].

    When the US defaults on it's T-bills & T-bonds, interest rates will GO UP. Car loans will get more expensive. Mortgages will get more expensive. Business loans will get more expensive. Credit card rates will go higher. Inflation will accelerate; the price of oil & food will go higher. Ask anyone with an MBA or a degree in Economics and they will tell you this is the cause-and-effect result. Let's just make sure we hold the Party-of-No ACCOUNTABLE for their childish behavior.

    June 23, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  20. vic , nashville ,tn

    We know republicans are playing politics on debt ceiling

    Most Americans believe time to raise tax

    My house value going down but property tax going up I understand my city need money so I agree to raise the property tax.

    Cut unnecessary spending and raise tax

    June 23, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  21. Bob S Philadelphia, Pa

    I truely hope the debt ceiling talks collapse ! I hope they knock down the raise even if it means we default on our loans , the last thing we need is to give this CLOWN more money to waste ! All NOBAMA knows how to do is print money and spend it ! I really hope he is one and done this country can't afford another 4 years of this CLOWN !

    June 23, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. joshua912003

    I'm just happy that they are trying to fix the unemployment problem and the economy. Its all just a game, and we are the pawns!

    June 23, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  23. JOE

    Eric Cantor is the biggest racist in America. More racist than Rush Libbaugh, John Boehner and the KKK.

    June 23, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  24. Vader

    What did you expect? Of course he bailed. That is the Repugnant-can way. Don't get your way? Stamp your tiny foot and flounce out the door. The gut-less Dems will then surely cave in to your petulant demands.

    June 23, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  25. michaelam

    Grow up, Little Eric! It was sooooo much easier sitting on the side lines throwing flames and hurling insults, wasn't it? Now, you have to have to put forth effort and the job has become pretty difficult hasn't it. Plus, you have to face those monsters that you and your unethical Party helped create--The Teahadists!!!! Cannot peeve them, can you, Little Eric? Don't worry, the majority of them will be GONE come 2012. They woke up the Middle-Class out of a thirty year slumber and we are pretty darned TICKED OFF, Little Eric.

    Keep in mind, Little Eric: You guys created these rabid, frothing, whackaloons--deal with them! And, get your culo back in those budget talks and DO YOUR JOB!!!!

    June 23, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
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