If President Barack Obama was hoping that his scolding of Republican lawmakers on Wednesday would spur action to the stalled debt talks, the GOP response made clear that the gulf between the two sides is larger than ever.
Democrats are demanding tax hikes via closing loop-holes for certain corporations and upper-income Americans, including oil/energy companies and owners of corporate-class jets, as part of the deal to increase the amount the nation can borrow by an Aug. 2 deadline; the Republicans categorically refuse. And the GOP didn't take too kindly to the president comparing them to his two children, whom he says don't wait until the last minute to finish their homework.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the president's remarks at his first full-blown news conference since March ignore legislative and economic reality and demonstrate remarkable irony.
His administration has been burying our kids and grandkids in new debt and offered no plan to rein in spending, Boehner said in a written statement. Republicans have been leading and offering solutions to put the brakes on this spending binge. The president has been AWOL from the debate.
Boehner also insisted that a bill increasing taxes and the amount the nation can borrow will not pass the GOP-led House.
The votes simply aren't there - and they aren't going to be there, because the American people know tax hikes destroy jobs, he said. They also know Washington has been on a spending binge for many years, and they will only tolerate a debt limit increase if we stop it.
In the news conference, Obama seemed to portray the ongoing debate as a class struggle, with Republicans acting as guardians of the rich by refusing to consider ending tax breaks for corporate jets or oil companies, while Democrats are seeking to protect vulnerable children from drastic cuts to programs that will invest in their future, Fox News reported.
If we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, if we choose to keep a tax break for corporate jet owners, if we choose to keep tax breaks for oil and gas companies that are making hundreds of billions of dollars, then that means we've got to cut some kids of from getting a college scholarship, that means we've got to stop funding certain grants for medical research, that means that food safety may be compromised, that means that Medicare has to bear a greater part of the burden, he said.
The president also took aim at the frequent recesses that Congress takes.
There are bills that Congress ran up, he said. The money's been spent. The obligations have been made. You stay here. Let's get it done.
Nevertheless, Republican leaders remain skeptical about the Aug. 2 deadline that U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner set in May when the nation hit its $14.3 trillion debt limit. Geithner said the U.S. Treasury could perform accounting maneuvers until Aug. 2 before the nation risked defaulting on its debt for the first time.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told Fox News that Wall Street folks have told him the deadline is closer to Aug. 22. He also said he believes Geithner will soon tell the American people that Aug.2 is an arbitrary deadline.