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. Uncle sam

    Again with soaking the poor and the middle class with with higher taxes and higher prices @ the pump so the oil companies can make billions more!

    June 23, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  2. Chaos

    Ahh, once again the "Party of No" shows their true colors again. Unwilling to compromise, more concerned with their polticial agenda than what's right... pardon me what's correct for the Country. And so much for making "tough choices" to fix the problems. These clowns on the Republican Party need new jobs.

    June 23, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. becorrect33

    That is "LEAD the charge" on D.C. for those that fail to LEAD the nation....

    June 23, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. Don_J

    The nicest thing that I could possibly say about Eric Cantor is that he is a slimy weasel.

    June 23, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on America!

    Cantor is working a very sleazy angle that the public may not yet have picked up on yet. The CIA used to have a tactic of undermining the economy of governments it opposed, thus allowing the US-supported party the "covering fire" to ride in and claim they can fix the problem (the problem the CIA CREATED behind the scenes)..

    The GOBPbaggers have adopted the same strategy in the US. Right now, they WANT to either (a) impose draconian cuts that will destroy most Americans and the safety net we support and deserve or (b) crash the world economy and blame it on everyone but themselves so the Greedy Old Pigs can ride in pretending to be saviors, and once again try to sell their failed cult ideas of deregulation and tax cuts for the filthy rich.

    June 23, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. JohnRJohnson

    You can't fix the deficit by cutting discretionary spending, and voters refuse to accept a deal which cuts social programs but doesn't also include raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The idea that the solution to the deficit must rest solely on the shoulders of the sick, poor and elderly in the United States is completely unacceptable. Cantor and McConnell use anti-logic to justify their rigid positions, suggesting that the wealthy and, therefore, the economy would suffer if their taxes went up 4%.

    The GOP is plotting its own demise in 2012 if it persists in this blatant pandering to its corporate and wealthy campaign contributors. And it is playing with real fire when it holds the debt ceiling hostage to its discredited economic philosophy.

    The bottom line is that Cantor, Boehner and McConnell know that they only way the GOP can make more gains in the next election is if the US economy is still suffering. So they are doing everything they possibly can to see that it continues to struggle. It is a purely political and astonishingly cynical strategy which all Americans could end up paying for.

    June 23, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  7. Harry

    When the tides change and the Republicans are in the majority in both houses of Congress and/or in control of the White House, they will not negotiate with the Left. They didn't before and they won't in the future. Why does the Left continue to try to seek the approval of people who HATE them? They will tie your hands, gag your mouth and stand on your neck the first chance they get! They DO NOT want to negotiate with you, they want to destroy you! This is why the idiots on the Left can not and will not accomplish anything. A sucker is born every minute and most of them register as Democrats.

    June 23, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. fondu

    These guys r such lies and cheats...everyone of em... Get rid of them all...

    June 23, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  9. Name

    Fire them ALL & replace them hamsters; they are running around on the same wheel all do too & getting no where.

    June 23, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    If the country defaults watch what happens to the true end of the republican party

    June 23, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. Whine-1-1

    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.

    Let me translate. What he means is: he believes it's time for the President to kowtow to the republicans who are stomping their feet like children until they get their way regarding not taxing the wealthy.

    June 23, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  12. R U completely STUPID?!

    What a bunch of F-ups! the solution is pretty clear. Reduce medicaide and medicare futures, and seriously cut loopholes for big business. Oil companies get enough of my money every 5 days. And how about bumping up education a bit. Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it and apparently these idiots don't know history...or math for that matter. once we default and hyper-inflation kicks in, America will be ruined, and a few days groceries will cost you a month's salary...and you can forget about your mortgage payment. It sadens me deeply how our country was founded on a spirit of cooperation and these idiots are going to ruin us all due to a self-obsorbed obsession to'win'. Not to mention how the bueaucrats are now paid by the coporations and care nothing for us and the future of our nation. Yeah fascism!

    June 23, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  13. Uncle sam

    Earth to GOP: Your Bush-Era tax cuts have eqauled a NET LOSS in the area of job creation!!

    June 23, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. dreamer96

    Cantor has no problem when huge corporations movied their headquarters to a mailbox to avoid paying federal taxes, to help pay for wars that those corporations have profited from like, KBR, Haliburton, All the oil companies, and more.

    Then there are the big banks bailed out by Bush not Obama.

    Cantor says shutdown Medicare, Mediaid, Social Security..
    After all those folks are not producing money anymore, so forget them.
    If you can no longer serve the state then the state doesn't want you to live anymore....
    Sounds like a banker I watched in an old Christmas moive, "A Christmas Carol", who gets haunted by three ghosts..

    Sometimes, I think Canter, and the Republicans are setting up a collapses of the stockmarket so the super rich can buy up lots of the country's companies, just like another old moive called "It's a wonderful Life".

    June 23, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. matt

    GOP are traitors to the country they claim to love. THROW THE BUMS OUT!

    June 23, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. WatchDawg

    And the GOP continue to perpetrate class warfare by failing to see the current tax incentives to the wealthy and big business has not and will not contribute to any new job creation. It just making deeper pockets...

    June 23, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. GOP Tea Party Is Selling America to China and India at Low Bottom Wages

    Traitors! – Abdicating their responsibilities once again!

    It's all Obama's fault!...why didn't the GOP say "NO" in the first place? At least that is their standard political mantra whenever they are called to lift a finger to help the American people and DO THE JOB they were elected TO DO!!

    No wonder the crybaby John Boehner-Eric Cantor GOP led congress poll numbers is at the bottom of the barrel scum!

    It's time to get rid of all these DO-NOTHING CONGRESSMEN!!!!

    June 23, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Johh

    What a coward Cantor is. Just like old times the Republican's Republican resorts to the lame behavior of a spoiled child like the Republicans did in the HealthCare issue. Don't fight just walk away and then do everything to stop any progress in settling the issue. WHAT A SPOILED LITTLE BABY. Rep Cantor GROW UP!!!

    June 23, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  19. Leon R Taylor

    It goes to show that the GOP aren't serious about the nations debt!

    June 23, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. vrim

    No matter how many experts tell republican lawmakers that the United States' "credit rating" is the wrong thing to try to use as a tool in their effort to finish off the middle class in this country, they will not be swayed from their belief that a scorched earth will somehow lead to growth.

    June 23, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  21. Roland

    I don't understand how republicans get a free pass on Defraying the inability of them doing their job to the president. We need the president to broker a deal. You should be adults and not children. No one elected children to congress they elected the people to bring about what's best for the country. I don't know how anyone could rationalize whether your for ro against tax cuts not raising the debt ceiling.

    June 23, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  22. Jason

    I am a very conservative Republican. However I favor closing loopholes such as the ones that allowed GE to make 4 billion dollars last year and pay no taxes. I am not in favor of raising taxes, however if loopholes exist that allow companies to not pay taxes that is absurd and I am pretty sure that 99% of the American public feels the same way. Also, oil subsidies? What the heck? The oil industry is raking in hundreds of billions of dollars in proffit, they don't need to be supported by the American taxpayer? They already get our money at the pump. I am not in favor of government regulation on the cost of a gallon of gas or special taxes for companies who make huge profits, however we don't need to give them any money either. That was my common sense writing just there. Another hard pill to take is Social Security & Medicare/Medicaid reform. I am 42 and have already paid into the system for 26 years. Those programs better be available to me when I retire but they won't without meaningful reform. Come on Republicans and Democrats, there have to be a lot of things that can be agreed on to head in the correct direction.

    June 23, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. lgny

    This is very discouraging. If the nation is unable to end any of the many corporate subsidies ("welfare for corporations") AND must accomplish all the cuts via Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, then we are doomed to default.

    Corporations must take a hit along with everyone else. It's inherently unfair to exempt them from the budget negotiations.

    June 23, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. earl fey

    Why not revenue cuts equal spending cuts. Give the creepublicans some else to say no to. It worked in 2010

    June 23, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. Republicans not willing to serve America

    After drigin the debt up to 10 trillion in the last administration, the republicans now want to drive America into the dirt. We the people means everybody!!

    June 23, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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