Obama meeting with congressional leaders Sunday (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
On Saturday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced his public rejection of a deal backed by the White House that proponents say would save $4 trillion in the coming decade. "I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the [Vice President Joe] Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase," Boehner said in a statement Saturday ahead of scheduled Sunday talks.
Boehner faced pressure from his party to reject any whiff of tax hikes, so his announcement itself was unsurprising. Yet Boehner had given no indication he would make the declaration Saturday ahead of Sunday's scheduled talks.
Boehner's pitch for a "smaller measure" now pivots the focus back to previous discussions under Biden which had produced the rough framework for a $2.4 trillion deal. But Republicans walked out of those talks last month, citing Democratic demands for an increase in tax revenue. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other critics say such measures would amount simply to tax hikes--the same argument that some GOP leaders are making against the larger $4 trillion deal. Republicans have said they will support a deal if offsets are made via spending cuts.
The White House has set July 22 as the target date for a debt deal, which they believe would afford Congress time to get the legislation passed prior to Aug. 2. That's the date at which the administration, economists and others say the government will begin to default on its debts if the debt ceiling is not raised.
As expected, Democrats excoriated Republicans for Boehner's declaration Saturday.
"Both parties have made real progress thus far, and to back off now will not only fail to solve our fiscal challenge, it will confirm the cynicism people have about politics in Washington," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement Saturday. "The President believes that now is the moment to rise above that cynicism and show the American people that we can still do big things."
Democrats have cast Republican pushback as an effort to shield wealthy corporations and individuals from losing tax breaks.
The meeting Sunday between congressional leaders and the White House continued as scheduled. But it reportedly produced no agreements.
Democrats are also pushing back against the president's offer to make cuts to entitlements as part of a negotiation.
The president has scheduled an 11 a.m. EST press conference Monday to update the public on the negotiations and continue promoting the White House plan.
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