Congressional leaders are heading back to the White House today for yet another meeting to try to reach a deal on raising the country’s debt ceiling. Officials familiar with the negotiations say majority leader Eric Cantor dominated yesterday’s meeting. Cantor laid out what was agreed upon in the deficit reduction talks led by Vice President Biden, specifically $2 trillion in cuts over the next decade. The figure includes around $1 trillion in discretionary spending, $200 billion in Medicare and Medicaid, and roughly $200 to $300 billion in saved interest on the debt. Sources familiar with the talks add that after the presentation, President Obama said the two sides might be able to reach consensus on roughly $1.7 trillion, but there are still issues to resolve. At one point during the meeting, Republicans called tax increases “bad for jobs”. Officials also say Vice President Biden exclaimed, “C’mon man, let’s get real”, arguing the GOP’s resistance is not economic, it’s ideological.
With the talks still in limbo, President Obama held a news conference before yesterday’s meeting, saying he is still pushing for the largest deal possible. But the President made it clear he would veto any short term fix, declaring, “We will get this done by August 2nd”. He said, “I will not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day extension. That is just not an acceptable approach. It’s not going to get easier. It’s going to get harder. So we might as well do it now – pull off the Band-Aid; eat our peas. Now is the time to do it. If not now, when?”
Two hours later, House Speaker John Boehner responded, saying he understands a deal requires sacrifice but it takes “two to tango”. When the debt talks finished yesterday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats remain committed to a balanced, bi-partisan agreement. In a statement, Pelosi said, “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”.