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. David

    Eric Cantor is worthless piece of trash!

    June 23, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. Consider This...

    Proof once more that the republicans are not serious about getting our country back on it's feet. All they care about is bowing down to big business, while destroying the middle class. Not to mention their all importantant reasonn, make this administration look bad. They don't care that in the process they destroy this nation.

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

    Right on schedule. Gotta manufacture the emergency/crisis and jack it up as far as possible before anything gets's the only way the GOP thinks it can gain leverage. Besides, they think they have until August 2nd, so they needed to find some way to milk using the debt ceiling to hamper the economy for another month or so.

    June 23, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. LouAz

    Typical Republican response – Let them eat CAKE ! I've got mine, to hell with the rest of you !

    June 23, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. D-Nice

    Cantor and the GOP are determined to wreck the economy and blame it on Obama. Great job guys, way to devistate the country while trying to make Obama a one term president.

    June 23, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. Regular Guy

    "Do what we say or we will destroy America" - the Republicans

    June 23, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. Average Joe

    Against a tax increase. Makes sense. We all know that when you get more revenue in it becomes more difficult to pay your credit card bills. Thats just plain common sense.

    June 23, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. blueeaglepolitics

    A disgraceful attempt by Republicans to continue to serve the wishes of Wall St. instead of Main St.

    June 23, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. SecedingfromTexas

    So, once again the spiteful thugs walk out on America's chance for recovery. There are so many words to describe
    this group of nincompoops, but I will leave it to the other bloggers who can say it so much better than I can. Vote
    Republican again? Never.

    June 23, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  10. astro24102

    I would walk out too......Having to negotiate with a used car salesperson like Joe Biden. I guess it could be worse with the likes of Blubbering Barney frank, nancy pelosi, harry ried, blagoevich, etc etc.

    June 23, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. midwestmoderate

    Republicans could care less about the average American and they have stated that their main objective is to ensure that President Obama is a one-term President. Their goal now is to cause a collapse of our economy by forcing their ideologic agenda on America and refuse to take a bipartisan approach to reducing the deficit and creating jobs to ensure Obama's defeat in 2012. They will stop at nothing to make that happen. If they are successful you can say goodbye to the American middle class.

    June 23, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  12. terry,va

    The fool we call Prez Obummie will hide under his desk and will be dragged kicking and screaming to the deficit problem. The Repubs and I hope he stays under the desk as he hasn't lead this country one minute. Cut the spending and that is all that is required. The dumbocraps answer is to raise taxes and to spend like a drunken sailor. Well, the dumbocraps don't deserve anymore of my money. I drive on the same roads, have the same civil liberities, and national defense as someone that doesn't contribute to our country at all. I say all you dumbocraps that want to steal more of my money to give to the deadbeats, piss off.

    June 23, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  13. G B

    Get back to work Cantor!!!!!!

    June 23, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. Larry

    We’ve had tax cuts since the Bush administration and it has yet to create jobs nor improve the economy.

    For a matter of fact, only 3 million jobs were created in 8 years during his administration. This is among the lowest of any President prior when factoring the years.

    So, any argument for permanent tax cuts are irresponsible and without merit. History proves this.
    George W. Bush – 3.0 million (Republican)

    Bill Clinton – 23.1 million (Democrat)

    George H.W. Bush – 2.5 million (Republican)

    Ronald Reagan – 16.0 million (Republican)

    Jimmy Carter – 10.5 million (Democrat)

    Gerald Ford – 1.8 million (Republican)

    Richard Nixon – 9.4 million (Republican)

    Lyndon Johnson – 11.9 million (Democrat)

    John F. Kennedy – 3.6 million (Democrat)

    Dwight Eisenhower – 3.5 million (Republican)

    Harry Truman – 8.4 million (Democrat)

    Source: The Wall Street Journal

    June 23, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. Randy, San Francisco

    Shame, shame, shame on politicians who sit on their hands while the country heads towards financial disaster. Perhaps it is time for a third party made up of a coalition of moderates from both parties and independents who are willing to make compromises.

    June 23, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. ToxicToast

    Always the responsible thing to do

    June 23, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. Richard

    I say President Obama should let them eat their words. Let the country default on the loans, and see if the businesses who pay the freight for repuglicans, will enjoy their vote. Repuglicans will do anything and everything for the rich. I say screw them, the middleclass and poor can't be screwed anymore than what the repuglicans have done. Lets go into default and see those big corporations complain for a change.

    June 23, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. Robert P

    Closing tax loopholes is NOT the same thing as raising taxes. The GOP have lost all credibility on the matter of deficit at this point. They only want to cut entitlements and are unwilling to have corporations or the super rich sacrifice anything. Just the middle clas and poor. This could potentially destroy the fragile recovery so they are just as insincere about wanting to fix the ecomony.

    June 23, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. GottaCutSumptin'

    End the War on Drugs. Legalize and Tax. Honestly, how can we continue to fund this failed policy yet even consider cuts to Medicare or Social Security?

    June 23, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  20. chill

    "doesn't want his fingerprints" ... in other words, he's gutless. Any reasonable observer knows that tax revenue has to rise, preferably by eliminating special loopholes and reducing the overall rate to a more competitive mid-20's level for corporate taxes. And the hypocrits that voted for the 2011 budget and now won't raise the debt ceiling to cover the expenditures they supported should be called out for the frauds they are.

    June 23, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "We’ve known for some time that tax hikes would be a poison pill to any deficit reduction proposal,” McConnell said."

    For no other reason than the GOP came out and said they wouldn't consider anything that involved closing tax loopholes, raising atxes on the ultra-wealthy (which polls show that the majority of Americans support...ALOT), or ending subsidies to the GOP's corporate masters. It's circular logic: "We arbitrarily declared that we'd not negotiate or compromise whatsoever, so you should known that asking or demanding that we do so would cause us to walk away from the table. You're either going to just give us precisely what we want or we're going to allow the nation to default on its debts and blow up the world economy."

    June 23, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. Former Republican, but never again!

    There has to be a balanced approach to reducing debt: raising taxes and cutting spending must BOTH be on the table. To say otherwise is absolutely ridiculous!

    June 23, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. Mike

    Why are the Republicans so stubborn? Nobody TRULY want's a tax increase, but it NEEDS to be done. Taxes are too low right now, and it's one reason why the economy is so bad, there isn't enough money coming together for the budget.

    Not to mention that we ALREADY know that the rich aren't employing more people. And they aren't employing more people because we don't have the money to buy anything because wages are so low compared to back in the day.

    June 23, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. MedaBlkman

    Sorry about the TRUTH.............repuks will NOT under any conditions come to an agreement. WHY? Because it would mean my President is doing his job and they (repuks) would rather be dayumed then be thought of as assisting a BLACK man with anything..........................SORRY SORRY SORRY.

    June 23, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  25. GI Joe

    The HELL NO CAUCUS is about to get their butts kicked out next year. We the REAL Americans are tire of their silly antics. And WE WON'T FORGET.

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