President Barack Obama indicated Friday he is ready to take over the budget deficit / debt ceiling negotiations, inviting Senate leaders to the White House next week, as the continuing impasse pushes the U.S. closer to a potential default, Politico reported.
Obama will meet individually with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Monday. The meetings will follow the crumbling of talks between Vice President Joe Biden and congressional leaders; U.S. Rep Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced he was suspending his participation as the talks have reached an impasse over taxes.
Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue, Cantor said in a statement. I will not be participating in [Thursday's] meeting and I believe it is time for the president to speak clearly and resolve the tax issue.
And taxes are the sticking point, with Democrats arguing that any deal to reduce the deficit and raise the country's borrowing limit must include new revenues. Republicans do not, and will not, agree.
The president is willing to make tough choices, but he cannot ask the middle class and seniors to bear all the burden for deficit reduction and to sacrifice while millionaires and billionaires and special interests get off the hook, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday. That's not a fair and balanced approach.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the realities of the situation are that the House won't pass any deal involving raising new revenues, and the package must include budget reforms and spending cuts that exceed the amount of the debt limit increase.
If the president and his allies want the debt limit increased, it is only going to happen via a measure that meets these tests, Boehner said in a statement. If the president puts forth such a proposal, he has my word that the House will act on it. But a measure that fails to meet these tests cannot pass the House.
Obama and Boehner met late last Wednesday, and have not spoken since Cantor pulled out of the talks Thursday.
Carney said no more meetings are scheduled between the president and Boehner, but Biden spoke Thursday and Friday with congressional Republicans and Democrats.
We believe we can move forward as long as no one in the talks takes a my-way-or-the-highway approach, Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One on a return flight to Washington from Pittsburgh.