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. sunsudo

    Of course the democrats are going to blame the republicansand the republicans are going to blame the democrats. How about no matter what party your on you get fined and loose your pay for not making the deadlines on time for the budget and basicaly doing their jobs. If they were going to loose their pay and be fined for not doing their job they might be motivated to do something in a non election year

    June 23, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. Rosslaw

    What on earth would Republicans know about an economy except how to tank it. And now these creatures define "raising taxes" as including reform of useless subsidies-i.e., if we stop paying oil companies billions in subsidies, that's "raising taxes". This country cannot continue to cater to the economic alchemy and fantasies of a party that represents less than 2% of the population. Cantor and his ilk need about 3 or 4 tours on the Afghan-Pakistan border to straighten them out.

    June 23, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  3. Al

    This cannot be any more clear. The "Big Oil" is already swimming in money.. and keep wanting more tax breaks?! Thier Republican servants in the Congress are doing everything to please the rich while making working class pay for it.

    June 23, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  4. Comanche1876

    How really serious can Cantor be about negotiations when he instantly takes off the table any elimination of tax loopholes? Obviously, from Cantor's perspective, the only pain to be felt from this exercise is for the middle class and the poor, who will see reductions in programs they use while no pain will be felt by the wealthy–be they oil companies currently wallowing in profits, commodity brokers speculating up the prices of oil, or millionaires and billionaires who've seen their share of the nation's income increase 20% or more in the last 20-30 year (while the rest of us have seen ours remain stagnant). I guess these companies and individuals aren't Americans in the sense of participating in the solutiion to our problems because they get away scott-free if Eric Cantor gets his way!

    June 23, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  5. Mike in Montana

    Sounds like the room was getting a little hot and heavy.. We better solve this important debt ceiling issue or we are going to be in real deep trouble, financially.., that means all of us. Where in enough trouble with the economy, current recession (again), unemployment, medical expenses and insurance for everyone, including the middle-class or poor, higher utilities bills, gas and oil and higher prices on just about everything, including putting food on the table for our family and children. As for a vacation this year.., staying home or close to home sounds good to me and my bank account. The wars and foreign aid to countries in the millions, if not billions of dollars are killing us, financially or bankruptcy as a nation. We need to spend that money in our own country and help our citizens that are barely making it each month, which includes the middle-class, poor and homeless. We're going to down hill and nobody is helping or stopping us from total collapse financially. Lets help ourselves, before helping someone else in another foreign country, that doesn't even like us or wants to say, "Thank You.." Mike in Montana

    June 23, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  6. pretty nick

    Mr Cantor should know better, he didnt walk out of a meeting, he walked out on the american people of whom he is supposed to represent

    June 23, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  7. catfishjoe

    Democrats will not agree to stop spending the tax payers money, unless the tax payer agrees to send them more money ?

    June 23, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  8. Ken in NC

    So Republicans say there will be a default on the part of our country unless Democrats do as Republicans tell them. Raising the debt limit is easy. All Democrats have to do is do what they are told by Republicans. Republicans make me sick.

    June 23, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  9. Duane - St.Pete FL

    Obama and the crew threw to much money at solutions that never panned out....(case in point the stimulus) remember how if we only just pass this we will get the unemployment level down below 8%.....oh, and I love the :shovel ready" jobs that never existed). Dems spent to much and they only want more of MY money to get us out of it.....I will continue to pay my taxes (unlike the 48% of the population that pays nothing and vote liberal cause they want to be taken care of) if the Obama boys CUT, CUT, CUT the social programs and make some HARD choices on Medicare and S.S. Oh, and leave the military budget alone...we need them more than ever now as Obama does not give off that Regan aura of strength...:o)

    June 23, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. mike

    There is NO viable solution that doesn't involve an increase in taxes on the wealthy. The current income tax rate on the wealthy is the lowest it's been since other words, since we've been a super power. Like it or not, a higher tax rate for the wealthy was part of our nation's success.

    The only other ways of addressing this are blowing up Medicare/Medicaid and pillaging the military. So, which of these is Cantor supporting? SPEAK UP, ERIC!

    June 23, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Kimo

    Are the Republicans willing to let the US default on loans and thereby crush the one of the few remaining safe investment (bonds)? Maybe. These are the same guys who were happy when the US didn't get the Olympics just because Obama wanted it.

    June 23, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. MICK

    Time to shut the government DOWN. The worthless commie liberal democrats only know one thing RAISE TAXES.
    Now is the time for the Tea Party-Republicans to act. No more spending money we don't have. Just say no.

    We all know that the budget can be balanced today if we repeal Social Security and Medicare. Just tell the old to


    June 23, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. Len Smith

    Just shows you that the so called Republicans are not at all interested in making the country better. They don't care about Americans, in general, except for the very wealthy and this guy Cantor is nearly one of the worse people that is in the Congress today. He betrays all the things that have made this country great. Republicans are simple not interested in the United States of America.

    June 23, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. EZNYer

    IT cute that Cantor pulled out from all talks just as the latest polls said that anybody voting for a rise in the debt ceiling is considered undesirable and also wants the President to get involved with increasing taxes so the Republicans can tie any increase in taxes directly to Obama. We see through your chicanery Cantor.

    June 23, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. Amazed

    Enemies on foreign soil don't begin to compare to the threat posed to non-rich Americans by Republicans, i.e. the shills of the ruling rich.

    June 23, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    As expected, the gutless weasel Cantor pulled out to save face with the frothing mob, rather than try to strike a deal to move the country forward. His job is keep his caucus in line, not the other way around, and his craven refusal to work with Democrats shows that he really does not care if the country slides into the abyss.

    June 23, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. dutspup

    frakin slimey republicans I swear, they call ending subsidies for big oil a tax increase and want to go after entilement programs, programs you and I work all our lives for. Stay home cantor freakin pussycat we'll get it done withoutcha.

    June 23, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Len Smith

    You cannot trust Republicans, period.

    June 23, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. Ratt

    If any Republican votes to raise the debt-ceiling they will be gone in 2012. We are in 7 wars now and Obama is running the debt up even higher. We will not default on obligations if the debt-ceiling is not raised, they will just have to spend within their means. If the Democrats had passed a budget in Sept. 2010 when they were suppose to we wouldn't be having this conversation, but to pass a budget back in 2010 would have meant the Democrats would have had to raise the debt-ceiling and they didn't want to face voters come November. Well, they lost the lower house to the Tea Party Republicans anyway and the Democrats are gona lose the Senate and the WH in 2012. The Democrats have not passed a Budget since Obama came into Office. That's a disgrace, and doesn't show much for all these Harvard and Yale uppity-up know it alls.

    June 23, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  20. Ed Texas

    Eric Cantor and the rest of the Greedy Odd People are only concerned about tax cutes for the rich and defeating Obams in 2012. They only care about the wealthy and big business. They desquise their intentions tax cuts for all, but the real group they care about is the wealthy and powerful. They do not care about the average, hard working American.

    June 23, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  21. Marjee123

    This is the guy who turned down financial help to the people of a red state, who where victims of a tornado. You can expect any kind of horrific actions from him. Add to that he has money running out his butt, so why should he care for any one lesser. I mean he wants more and more tax cuts for the rich and corporations. He thinks the victims can fend for themselves and he can say any money for the rich. He is disgusting. Of course if he comes from the Jerry Farwell terrority and you know you can expect any thing from them.

    June 23, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  22. Jon O

    The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) has released its findings.

    The only way to save us is with tax hikes or drastic cuts to SS and MC.

    But I say, cut SS and MC now – not for people in 20, 50 or 70 years – NOW. Old farts are the ones who are in control, who ran this country into the ground, and old farts are the ones who don't want tax hikes on the wealthy because they believe they'll create jobs (even though its proven they won't).

    So cut it now. I don't want to pay into a system that won't exist for me and I'd rather my SS and MC tax went to paying off the debt.

    Time to choose where you want to lose. Take your pick.

    You greedy folks that have had the power for the last 30 years are the ones that got us here – YOU need to be the ones that suffer. Your generation failed.

    June 23, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  23. heerobya

    The party of obstruction strikes again!

    Democrats refuse to touch their entitlement programs, Republicans refuse to do anything to touch their corporate sponsors. Business as usual in Washington, and the American people continue to suffer needlessly. *sigh*

    June 23, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  24. maine liberal

    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,"

    so that the say NO-GOP can beat up on him again. sorry guys you won remember, how is that "mandate" working out for you. fyi you need to read that pocket constitution again starting with article 1 section 8

    June 23, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. Don in Delaware

    If I were a boss... running a huge corporation and my employees kept coming to me, saying that they couldn't agree on anything and that "I" had to mediate their bickering and help them come to an agreement... I'd fire them and find some people who could do the job without "running to daddy" all the time. This is ridiculous.

    June 23, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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