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. bravado in boston

    high drama ...played out with a card deck of Jokers.

    The stock market needs to lose 3,000 points and blame it on the inability to raise the debt limit and then maybe these goof-balls will come to a compromise – close a few loop holes, cut a few portions of entitlements......

    let's get real here, Jokers. You will HAVE to raise the debt ceiling. stop holding all other things hostage (typical Republican antic).

    i"ve had it with them all.

    June 23, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. Ken

    Gee I guess they think we will be impressed by more political drama – when we all know they will broker a last minute deal to save the union. How many different way can these phonies spell pandering. If we are in a money crisis then everything is on the table, taxes and cuts...everything. Anything less by both sides-as if there is only two sides- pandering to their base and political posturing. In other words just big piles of used bull food.

    June 23, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Just like the GOP, they cut taxes for the rich, start two wars in which Afghanistan alone cost 2 billion a WEEK, and then want to basically eliminate SSN and medicare for the ones whom's jobs were sent overseas so big business could make even more $$$. The GOP is the party of the rich and big business only.

    June 23, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. A. Goodwin

    Wow, so yet again Republican's are acting like babies about raising taxes. Well guess what – all those tax breaks are not creating jobs and the rich are still as rich as ever. Is it just me or is it painfully obvious that the GOP is pandering to their mega-rich friends, lobbiests, and rich corporations who stand to loose a buck? As an independent, I'm really upset that the GOP is taking this stance. If we are going to ask non-profits to take a hit, shouldn't we asking the mega-rich to do the same? Do they not see their flaw that trickle down economics has NEVER worked? Will the GOP forever push independents like me further torwards the Democratic party (grr) seems so.

    June 23, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  5. Robert

    With the debt that we have there is no way we are going to make any serious dent into it unless we address both cuts and revenue increases. And if either side is unwilling to look at both of those as needed options then neither of them is serious about fixing the problem. We cant tax our way out of the problem and we cant cut our way of the problem. The problem is frankly just too big to only use one of those options both really are going to need to be used. I would point out to most conservatives that although Reagan did cut taxes he also closed tax loop holes.

    June 23, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. wishing

    A shocking disregard for America's midlle class, in favor of the wealthy elite base of the GOP.

    June 23, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  7. mnesbitt

    I going to take my football and go home-maybe the best thing to ever happen have the government go broke so it can't pay the politicians

    June 23, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Eric P

    Ridiculous. Let's look at the lesser of two evils. The only axiom here is that the government needs money, it ACTUALLY does NOT matter how it gets it. He's whining about not wanting to raise taxes by a mere few percentage points (at most) because he fundamentally disagrees with doing so in a weak economy, but letting the U.S. default is a better idea? Are the Republicans insane? If the U.S. defaults you WILL pay astronomically higher taxes. Period. So high, that it literally will bankrupt you. Grow up! This is the real world. I'd like to know exactly what economic theory the GOP in particular is adhering to, because any economist of even moderate repute will tell these idiots they're sacrificing the whole for the sake of the few.

    June 23, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. becorrect33

    If those idiots in congress fail to act on this impending item and cause another market collapse, I will led the charge to D.C.

    June 23, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Me

    Republicans don't seem to realize that the American people will hold them responsible for this. Quit playing politics and do your work.

    June 23, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. nate

    Republicans aren't serious, they're just playning the game.

    June 23, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Flabbergasted

    Let me get this straight: It is the democrat's fault because they won't accept the destruction of our social safety nets? And somehow the republicans are devoid of blame, when they refuse to even consider the idea that we should cut tax loopholes for large corporations, or ask millionaires to pay a bit more in taxes.

    So, to sum up the republican viewpoint: Lets ask poor single mothers to give up subsidies on baby formula, because the koch brothers can't afford a tax increase.

    June 23, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. Daway

    The G.O.P. stalling so they can continue to fight for big business and the rich even though they created the mess of the economy and the cost of war, Afghanistan alone is 2 billion a WEEK!

    June 23, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  14. 'merica ruined by rethugs

    CANTor needs to come to grips that there are two sides of a ledger. Taxes must be on the table, too many freebies under Bush that have now come due. Ronnie Regan raised taxes, Shrub 1 raised taxes. The GOTP loves to cry about Freedom Ain't Free - well here's the chance to walk the walk, they need to ante up and look to increase revenue.
    CANTor = weasel.

    June 23, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  15. CPW

    So the people that are supposed to be working for us are just walking off because they cant handle it?
    If our Reps cant handle negotiations then we need people that can. Stop arguing and understand that compromises have to be made and storming off because you dont like what is going on is really bad in the eyes of the people that depend on you to do you job.

    June 23, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  16. Todd

    This just proves that the republicans are not serious about anything.Now when we hit the debt ceiling the dems can blame the republicans for bailing out of these meetings.

    June 23, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. Reality Check

    Is Cantor's belief supported by economic theory. What is certain is that if the debt ceiling is not raised and the US can not pay its obligations everyone can kiss any hope of a recovery goodbye.

    June 23, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Tim McGuire Images

    Why not debate these things in public where the voters can see what each party and individual congress person is all about? These back room deals need to stop.

    June 23, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. Gothaze

    Oil prices dictate consumer confidence. While prices where rising thats all we heard. Now that prices are falling they have nothing to complain about but the debt. To put it in simple terms. If ur a Repub and u supported the GWB administration. Then this ur debt. You wont find many Dems who agree with any of W's policies. Therefore own ur Debt! If it means taxing ur ass's to cover the debt. Them i say Tax baby Tax.

    June 23, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. Adam

    Why don't they just fire the few remaining teachers left in America. I mean, education is entitlement at its finest right?

    June 23, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  21. Ksobserver

    His corporate sponsors told him to withdraw. We know teabaggars aren't smart enough to think for themselves.

    June 23, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  22. DWL

    So far at both the state and federal level all of the take aways have been on the backs of the middle class and I dare any GOP party member to prove other wise. Yet over the last 25 years the salaries of top executives have gone up over 500 times while that of the middle class has either decreased or gone up maybe at the cost of living. USA is become class society, a class of the haves and the have not's and the GOP is in favor of this type of society, you can see it in every piece of legislation they pass.

    The GOP is again trying to take away as much Medicare and Medicaid as they can because their bosses don't need it so why do their care if those that need it, those who showed for all those years loyalty to the companies they work for need it. The GOP and their bosses are nothing but Greedy self serving SOB's.

    June 23, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. Dr. Canuck

    The United States of America = the Greece of the "new world." What a joke America has become! The rallying cry of the Republican'ts: "Ideological rigidity and purity before financial (and general factual) reality!" The question is how does the rest of the world bail out America? If nothing happens before/by August 2nd, congratulations U.S.A.; you will become a "true" welfare state!

    June 23, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  24. pritiblond

    This country needs an enema.

    June 23, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  25. Renaldo Cortez

    What's more important tax breaks for the Donald Trumps or health care for grandma?

    June 23, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9