Obama invites congressional leaders to White House for debt talks
July 5th, 2011
04:37 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama invites congressional leaders to White House for debt talks

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Tuesday he invited Democratic and Republican leaders from both chambers of Congress to the White House for a meeting Thursday to discuss deficit reduction and the need to raise the federal debt ceiling.

Obama told reporters he wanted the meeting to "build on the work that's already been done and drive toward a final agreement" that would address expanding federal deficits and bring congressional approval for increasing how much money the government can borrow.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who earlier invited Obama to come to Congress to discuss the issue, will attend the White House meeting, his office announced. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also plans to attend.

According to Obama, who made a previously unscheduled appearance in the White House briefing room Tuesday, talks on deficit reduction over the July Fourth weekend with congressional leaders from both parties made progress, but "we still have to work through some real differences."

Obama also said he's opposed to a short-term increase in the debt ceiling. One proposal by former President Bill Clinton calls for a temporary increase in the debt ceiling to allow more time for deficit reduction talks.

"I don't think the American people sent us here to avoid tough problems," Obama said. The debt ceiling dispute is a "unique opportunity to do something big" and put the "economy on a stronger footing for the future."

Both parties need to come out of their "comfort zone," Obama said. But "this should not come down to the last second."

Both Senate leaders returned to work Tuesday and resumed their tough talk on negotiations to cut federal deficits amid a looming deadline to raise the government's debt ceiling.

The Fourth of July three-day weekend did little to change the rhetoric of recent weeks over deficit reduction talks and the need for Congress to increase the amount of money the government can borrow.

In his opening remarks after the Senate reconvened, Reid, D-Nevada, accused Republicans of putting the nation's economic recovery at risk by threatening to oppose an increase in how much money the government can borrow. McConnell, R-Kentucky, followed Reid by accusing Democrats of wanting to increase spending to solve a deficit problem.

Before Obama's invitation, McConnell repeated an earlier invitation for Obama to come to Congress and hear from Republicans why they won't support any agreement that includes tax increases, while Reid said his side was willing to compromise but would not allow Republicans to put the needs of "a few millionaires and billionaires" ahead of the rest of the country.

With House members scheduled to return Wednesday, congressional leaders remain at sharp odds over what sort of conditions should be attached to a hike in the current $14.3 trillion ceiling.

Republicans are refusing to go along with any increase unless it includes deep spending cuts and avoids any tax increases. Democrats are trying to minimize the impact of cuts to social services and are calling for the elimination to certain tax breaks and loopholes benefiting wealthier Americans.

Treasury Department officials and leading economists have warned of potentially catastrophic consequences if the ceiling is not raised by August 2, at which point the country could default on its debt obligations. Among other things, the country could face skyrocketing interest rates and a plummeting dollar.

Increasing the debt ceiling will allow the government to borrow more money in order to pay for spending already accrued.

Given the short time frame, Congress and the White House may be forced to agree to a relatively small increase in the debt ceiling covering only a few months.

Such a compromise - including cuts already agreed to on both sides of the aisle - would give leaders more time to negotiate serious budget reforms, including possible changes to popular entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Over the weekend, however, top Democrats and Republicans gave no public indications that a potential compromise is in the offing. Talks led by Vice President Joe Biden recently collapsed over the tax dispute.

"The principle of not raising taxes is something that we campaigned on last November and the results of the election was the American people don't want their taxes raised and they wanted us to cut spending," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said on CNN's "State of the Union." "They don't want compromise."

Various frameworks for a possible deal have been floated. Conservatives demand deep spending cuts, caps on future spending and a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution in return for their support to raise the debt ceiling.

Both the House and Senate are planning votes on a balanced budget amendment in coming weeks. However, with such an amendment requiring approval from a two-thirds majority in both chambers, and then ratification by at least 38 states, eventual approval is unclear in a process that can take years.

For his part, Obama has chided congressional Republicans for refusing to make "tough decisions" at odds with their conservative base. He calls for what he characterizes as a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes more revenue for education, infrastructure and clean energy - areas he considers critical to long-term economic growth.

The Democratic position includes spending cuts elsewhere, including the military, as well as reforms to popular entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, the government-run health care programs for senior citizens, the disabled and the indigent. Republicans seek more sweeping entitlement reforms that Democrats contend would eliminate the safety net the programs were intended to provide.

Clinton - widely considered to have won a budget showdown with Republicans in 1995 - told an audience in Aspen, Colorado, Saturday that he hopes the Democrats don't back down in the face of the GOP opposition to increased tax revenue.

Clinton advised his fellow Democrats to accept previously agreed-upon spending cuts as part of a deal allowing the government to stave off default for another six to eight months. He then pushed for more sweeping budget reform talks over the remainder of the year.

Filed under: Congress • Debt • President Obama
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    I wish I had money to bet that they won't be coming. boner has said NO to every thing the President has put on the table including invitations to the WH. The only yes from hiim was for a golf game. I guess his priority is NOT JOBS!!!
    The constipated man from VA, that cantor child, will, ifi he does attend, walk out of the room throwing the little boy tantrum that he is. mcconnell will come out of his turtle shell just long enough to tell everyone within earshot that he wants the President to fail and that he is going to be a one term President. kyl will bring his warp mathetics and percentages (3% vs 98% regarding planned parenthood) but he will deny that he does not know what he is talking about.
    The rethugs better look and listen to those "Americans" they continue to claim as on their side because they are not. Even republicans I know at work and family members are tired of being screwed by them. That being said good luck in 2012 since all you rethug idiots are doing is trying to get re elected so you can continue to bring the little guy down!

    July 5, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. Republican Robber Baron

    The Republicans are not serious and only care about obstructionist radical Partisan agendas. The base of the GOP has shifted so far to the right...they are impossible to work with. Let them stick with that right-wing social engineering agenda and see how far it will it will get them next election.

    July 5, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. ConservaFASCISTS

    The Grand Obstructionist Party are honest brokers and can not be negotitated with. They will let country default and then point fingers blaming everyone else.

    July 5, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. wishing

    The President needs to protect the economy first, that may get him reelected. From that point, he will have four more years to play some serious poker with John Boehner. The President was dealt a terrible hand to start his first term, and was like the deck was stacked against him. Now, he just needs to see if he can stay in the game for the next deck, because the cards always change. We have seen he can handle the worst of times. I want to give him a chance to see what he can do when the sky isn't falling in.

    July 5, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. Clwyd

    All he should expect is hearing the words, No, No No! Just like in Minnesota where the government shut down. let the debt limit pass and ruin our country. Then blame the idiot republican'ts for what they have done. From McConnel to Cantor they are all animals.

    July 5, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    We'll get more spin and lies and hate from the HELL NO CAUCUS in the Senate and the House. 2012 cannot come soon enough. Those republicans and t-baggers are in for a rude awakening - we can HEAR YOU NOW - and have been listing to your obstructionism for MONTHS.

    July 5, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    @ wishin - BONER will NOT be there for the next 4 years. His family will be the only ones voting for him.

    July 5, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. MarineVet

    The anti American GOP economic terrorists will never assist our President in cleaning up the mess left by Dumya.
    If there was a Patriot among them, they would have been working with the Democrats on behalf of America, not global corporations who ship jobs to Communist China.

    July 5, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Four and The Door

    The Grand Obstructionist Party are honest brokers and can not be negotitated with. They will let country default and then point fingers blaming everyone else.
    They have no obligation to Obama or anyone else to raise the debt ceiling. You do understand that, don't you?

    They have agreed to raise it however, but Obama is getting greedy and wants to raise taxes along with it. Really? He sets a debt ceiling, spends right past it, asks for a new one, gets agreement to raise it as long as spending is cut back and so then he holds it up to demand a tax increase?

    How much do you want to bet with the new debt ceiling he spends right up to the limit again? With Obama, the debt only gets bigger. That's not what the American taxpayers want and not what America needs.

    July 5, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    four – YOUR BFF Shrub raised it 7 times - didn't hear a single peep out of you. And, by the way - 4.4 trillion that was put on the books by President Obama was what Shrub left off the books so it didn't show up in any reporting.

    July 5, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  11. Fed Up With GOP

    @GI Joe Thank you and Amen Brother.

    July 5, 2011 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. Gregory Newbold - The Other Campaign Strategist @ 115th & Amsterdam Ave

    As a Chief Executive that has taken an oath to uphold, protect & defend the Constitution, the President has significant steps he can take to pressure the GOP to do this on HIS TERMS.

    The 14th Ammendment states that the US debt can not become invalid. If Congress won't act then the President is empowered to act UNILATERALLY. If Repbulicans in Congress wanted to send the President a Debt Extension bill only, they would have narrowed his options. However, the minute they insisted on linking "spending cuts" to the extension, they handed the President a political present.

    The United States borrows 68% of every dollar spent. To balance our cashflow, President Obama is congressionally authorized to CUT whatever spending he wants to keep us from spending more than that 68%. He can do this via Executive Order(s). That's how he keeps our debt "valid".

    I suggest he go on TV and vow to protect the pay of "Senior & Soldiers" Then he should cut the defense weapons budget [payments to Lockheed, Boeing, Northrop] as he sees fit. He should eliminate industry subsidies [including oil & gas to Mobil, Exxon, BP] as he sees fit. He should suspend Congressional & Presidential pay until such time as the GOP backed house sends him a bill that raises the debt limit to the level he wants based on a 50-50 split between "reduced spending" and "increased revenues".

    Do this Mr. President and the public will love you. Independent voters will rally behind you as you "tighten our national belt". Your Democratic base will be estactic as you stand up againt partisan Republicans deemed to be playing russian roulette with the nation's credit rating. Seniors will laud you for saving Grandma's social security. Capital markets will be calmed because the risk of a US default will have been removed. Stock will soar – interest rates will hold steady. The deficit will be driven lower. You will be assured of re-election.

    Very little downside risk on this one sir.

    July 5, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. I just hope Obama shows some of that . . .

    "I Got Bin Laden" spine.

    July 5, 2011 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  14. John

    Don't expect the Republican to Compromise for anything. The TEA PARTY and the KOCH'S BROTHER won't let them. I be gald when 2012 get here so we can get these Idiot out of office. John Boehneer Is the worst house speaker America ever had, Eric Cantor all way has that grin on his face like he enjoying screwing over the American People. And Mitch McConnell Is just a TEA PARTY PUPPET. the Republican party has to have anything a prove by the TEA PARTY FIRST. They got to Realize there not enough Tea PARTY People to Reelected these IDIOT In 2012.

    July 5, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  15. Hammerer

    Where is Obama today?
    Another fund raiser, maybe a campaign speech, golf or just a day to relax and play basketball to honor his father.

    July 5, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    Neither side will give, there will be no deals, and the country will go into default. So be it.

    July 5, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  17. wallybob

    all 50 republican senators voted to raise the debt ceiling every year under bush for his adventures in the desert, and now they got religion all of a sudden and do a complete 180 degree flipflop like a big smelly fish.

    July 5, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  18. Troy

    I want to see the proggressive budget taken seriously. It's the only one I've seen that makes ANY sense. These guys want to cut social programs and break the working man. I'd better see that entire defense budget (rich man's welfare) dismantled before they mess with my mothers social security and medical. It's getting rediculous now people, how much more crap are we willing to take from these criminals? If Egypt can go it, we can too.

    July 5, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  19. michaelam

    Stand tough, Mr. President. It is not necessary to make deals with hostage takers. Take the 14th Amendment route!

    July 5, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  20. A Canuck with an interest

    Gregory Newbold, there is a huge gaping hole in your argument, although the idea of giving the GOP a backhand across the face pleases me, it cannot legally happen because in the same constitution, Congress controls the purse strings to prevent the President from doing just as you said. I do not believe the 14th Amendment was made with the idea of stripping Congress of that power.

    July 5, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  21. Len Smith

    We have a man who is very much a President and is very Presidential, and we have a majority party in the House of Representatives made up of children, who hold the breath and kick there feet and don't care about this country, just themselves and their very wealthy friends. The minority party in the Senate is not much better. GOOD LUCK, PRESIDENT OBAMA.

    July 5, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  22. juliei4

    Stick to your guns Mr. President. There were 7 increases to the debt ceiling under the Bush Administration and none of them included a demand for spending cuts. Guess who was doing the spending? You got it – the same people now demanding cuts.

    July 5, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  23. Patrick from Minnesota

    Four, since when is raising taxes in the richest Americans greedy? If we were raising taxes on the poor then yes, that would be obsenely greedy. But making the greedy pay more only seems fair in my mind. You should also remember that the debt ceiling was raised no fewer that 7 times during your beloved George W. Bush Administration.

    July 5, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  24. Jobe

    Obama has to show he is at least is trying because all he has done for the last two and half years is spend money and ruin our economy. I have a call into my Obstrucitonist congressman and senator to keep obstructing our King of Unemployment Obama. The sheep that are well noted above will follow him anywhere but like Rome and Babylon destruction from within will only be expedited with Hope and no Change running things.

    July 5, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  25. ibamaliar

    Just how stupid can this be expanding the Federal Deficit and increasing the Debt ceiling. A Moron with Moron thoughts would only suggest such a thing without first talking about how we can reduce the Federal Debt mess we've brought upon ourselves. Is this the kind of government we're to look for in the next four years if God forbid this man is re-elected into the Oval office. I want no part of it or him.

    July 5, 2011 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
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