McConnell: Real Deal Not Possible With Obama
WASHINGTON a real solution to U.S. fiscal problems isn’t possible as long as President Barack Obama remains in office, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, heightening the rhetoric surrounding the debt-ceiling debate.
Mr. McConnell, the Senates top Republican, and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), both blamed President Obama for the stalemate in the debt-ceiling and deficit-reduction talks and urged the White House to break the impasse. Negotiations were to resume for a third-straight day Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. EDT.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky during a May news conference in Washington.
Mr. McConnell said he had gone into negotiations in good faith over how to formulate a deficit-reduction package to accompany an increase in the statutory borrowing limit. The Treasury has said the limit must be raised by Aug. 2 to avoid the potential of a U.S. default on its debts, while Mr. Obama has said he wants a deal by July 22.
Messrs. McConnell and Boehner said it was the White Houses responsibility to ensure policy makers are able to meet the deadline.
This debt-limit increase is his problem, Mr. Boehner said after a morning meeting with Republican House members. The President talks a good game, but when it comes time to actually putting these issues on the table, making decisions, they cant quite pull the trigger.
Mr. McConnell said he concluded after the latest negotiations that the administration had expressed a fundamental unwillingness to agree to significant spending cuts.
But after years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable, Mr. McConnell said in a Senate floor speech.
Mr. Obama pressed congressional leaders Monday to forge a $4 trillion, 10-year deal during a contentious negotiating session at the White House.
Republicans are pressing instead for a more limited deal involving $2 trillion in spending cuts that include none of the tax increases the White House is seeking.
Mr. Obama sought to keep the pressure on his Republican counterparts Tuesday.
In an interview with CBS News, Mr. Obama said, I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it, Mr. Obama said in the CBS interview, according to excerpts released by the network.
We know we won’t have a lot of time, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday. We want to wrap up the broad outlines of an agreement by the end of this week, certainly by the end of next week so we have time to put the legislation in place.
Hitting the Ceiling
See what the federal debt limit has been at year-end since 1940.
Mr. McConnell did offer details of what he said was a plan to ensure the country doesn’t default on its debt if there is no wider agreement by Aug. 2.
The McConnell plan essence would put in place a procedure that could allow three separate increases in the country’s debt ceiling totaling $2.5 trillion through the end of 2012.
But his plan would require a bill to be passed in both the House and Senate in the next two weeks, something that likely faces long odds.
McConnell didn’t answer directly when he was asked whether he had run his proposal by Mr. Boehner, who would have to agree to bring the legislation to the House floor creating the procedure in place. He said only that he had spoken to people.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said that McConnell had briefly spoken to him about the plan but that he hadn’t seen specific details. He said he would take a look at the plan.
Meanwhile, major business trade groups urged Mr. Obama and Congress to boost the debt ceiling and reach agreement on a long-term deficit-reduction plan.
Now is the time for our political leaders to put aside partisan differences and act in the nations best interests, according to the letter, signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, the Financial Services Forum, the National Association of Manufacturers and others. We believe that our nations economic future is reliant upon their actions and urge them to reach an agreement. It is time to pull together rather than pull apart.