(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)Amid ongoing negotiations with President Obama over raising the debt ceiling, House Republican leaders responded to Obama's call Monday for compromise by saying that their openness to raising the debt ceiling at all is sacrifice enough.
"A vote to increase the debt limit in this country is an existential question for a fiscal conservative," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday. "These votes aren't easy. ...What I don't think that the White House understands is how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they're going to vote for a debt ceiling increase."
Congressional leaders are heading into a second straight day of negotiations with the president today over raising the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, which Republicans have refused to support without "major" cuts to federal spending. The White House has suggested a compromise that includes restructuring the nation's entitlement programs--currently the main drivers of debt--in exchange for tax increases, but Republicans continue to refuse any deal that raises rates.
"Adding tax increases to the equation doesn't balance anything," House Speaker John Boehner said before today's meeting with Obama, arguing that as a lead Republican negotiator on the issue, he's already "going to take my fair share" of hurt by merely talking to the president about raising the debt limit.
Cantor went so far as to say that the issue of taxes was an "irreconcilable difference" between his caucus and the White House, and also rejected Obama's offer to hold off on raising taxes for two years.
"We're not going to burden small business people or those looking to invest, saying 'hey, not this year, but maybe next year your tax rates are going to go up,' " Cantor said. "That doesn't make sense."
Boehner announced Saturday that he would reject a wide-ranging deal offered by the White House, settling instead for a smaller settlement to get Congress to increase the debt ceiling, which the Treasury Department says must be done by August 2 or the federal government could risk default.
The president says he hopes to have a deal completed by July 22.