President Obama and Congressional leaders enter into another day of debt negotiations. They met at the White House at 3:45 pm ET today. But House Republican leaders began the day with a conference meeting and a briefing for the press where they distanced themselves from any compromise or negotiations previously discussed.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) placed the blame of a stalemate on the President. "Where’s the President’s plan? The debt limit increase is his problem. It’s time for him to lead and put his plan on the table," Boehner said.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered a new proposal as he has "become increasingly pessimistic that we can reach an agreement" with the President, he said.
The proposal would enable the President to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion over the next 18 months. But the President would first have to ask Congress’ permission three different times. Congress could then vote on a “resolution of disapproval” of the President's request, clearing lawmakers from having to vote on raising the debt ceiling. If the President vetoes the disapproval, the veto could be overridden by a minority of lawmakers - one-third plus one in either legislative body – thus allowing the President to raise the debt ceiling.
Senator McConnell said this would be a “last choice option” but he said the Republicans are "not going to be a party to default” on the U.S. debt.
Public statements made by President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) prior to yesterday's meeting identified how far apart the two parties are despite statements that a deal will be reached.
“I am prepared to take significant heat from my party to get something done. The other side should do the same thing,” Obama told reporters Monday morning.
Speaker Boehner pulled back from negotiating a major budget reform package that would have amounted to $4 trillion worth of deficit savings over the next ten years.
“The president and I do not agree about revenue,” Speaker Boehner said in a press conference just before walking into Monday’s debt negotiations. He said the President “isn’t serious enough” about cuts to entitlements.
President Obama said he has “bent over backwards to work with Republicans.”
After Monday's meeting, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) said in a statement, “We continue to oppose benefit cuts in Social Security and Medicare. These pillars of economic and health security should not be used as a piggybank to subsidize tax cuts for the wealthy.”
President Obama and the eight Congressional leaders plan to meet every day until a plan can be agreed upon before the August 2nd deadline Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner imposed on Congress to lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
Meanwhile, the Senate is debating a non-binding resolution that says the wealthy should contribute to reducing the deficit. The Democratic-written measure is not-specific on how the wealthy should contribute, but amendments are expected to be offered, which could alter the bill.
This morning, Washington Journal spent much of its morning exploring the debt ceiling talks. Guests included Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), a member of the House Appropriations Committee; William Miller, senior vice president, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Michael Abramowicz, law professor at George Washington Law School. Mr. Abramowicz will discuss the constitutionality of the debt ceiling.