President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) each addressed the nation tonight on the ongoing debt negotiations, as the Senate and House progress on different plans for lifting the debt ceiling.
The President spoke from the East Room of the White House, saying that though they'd reached a "stalemate," Congressional Democrats and Republicans "agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need. The debate is about how it should be done."
The President again advocated for an approach that combines spending cuts with revenue increases; he quoted former President Ronald Reagan, who made the case for a bipartisan plan for reducing the deficit by saying "Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment? And I think I know your answer.”
Speaker Boehner spoke immediately following the President's remarks, saying that "there is no stalemate in Congress." He pressed for a vote on his plan, which would raise the debt ceiling in two steps, and create a small Congressional commission to determine future spending cuts. The Speaker says the President "wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced a proposal Monday to lift the $14.3 trillion dollar debt ceiling through 2012. It includes $2.7 trillion in budget cuts. Reid’s proposal does not include increases in revenue or cuts to entitlement programs. It “meets both sides bottom lines,” Senator Reid said. The savings include $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending and takes into account $1 trillion is savings by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would also create a committee to recommend additional spending cuts in the future.
Speaker Boehner said Senator Reid's proposal was "full of gimmicks." He announced his two-step plan, which would raise the debt ceiling two different times and would cut spending by as much as the debt ceiling is lifted. Speaker Boehner said the plan was not "Cut, Cap and Balance" -- the deficit reduction plan passed in the House on Tuesday and killed in the Senate on Friday, but "built on the principles" of the failed legislation.
The separate proposals come as talks broke down over the weekend and both Senator Reid and Speaker Boehner decided to go separate ways.
Over the weekend, Speaker Boehner told House Republicans there was no way to reach a deal with President Obama. During a late afternoon conference call with GOP House members Sunday, Mr. Boehner encouraged them to back a new plan that could pass in both chambers of Congress. The new plan is "going to require some of you to make some sacrifices," he is reported to have cautioned his rank-and-file.
On Friday, Speaker Boehner announced that he would no longer work with President Obama on the debt ceiling crisis. Over the weekend, he outlined a two-step initiative that would begin with an increase in the debt ceiling in exchange for $1 trillion in reduced spending. The second step would involve a commission tasked with longer-ranging responsibilities such as cutting programs and raising revenue.
President Obama continues to insist that he will veto any plan that doesn't extend into 2013. Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," White House Chief of Staff William Daley said that the President "believes that we must get this uncertainty out of the system."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the President rejected a bipartisan two-step plan over the weekend because of the 2012 elections. "Reconsider our offer rather than veto our country into default," was McConnell's message to the President.
Senator Reid responded: “Nice try. Don’t blame this on the President.”