The United States hit its current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling in May and the Obama administration says the government will default on its obligations if the debt limit is not increased by Aug. 2. For a new debt ceiling to last to the end of 2012 would require raising it by about $2.4 trillion.
Republicans, in control of the House of Representatives in part because of the support of tea party activists, say they will not vote to raise the limit if Obama doesn’t agree to at least an equal amount of deficit reductions over 10 years.
Despite the heightened tensions that have been on display, the White House said there was no talk of shaking up the negotiation process or changing the participants — including the top eight House and Senate leaders.
A congressional aide said the White House discussed with lawmakers the possibility of moving talks this weekend to the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland. But the White House said there was no plan to move the meetings.
Despite McConnell’s assertions that the debt problem belongs to Obama, fresh polling from Quinnipiac University suggested voters would be more apt to hold Republicans responsible than Obama, by 48 percent to 34 percent, if the debt limit is not raised. The same survey showed voters were about evenly split on whether they’re more concerned about raising the limit and increasing government debt, or seeing the government go into default and damaging the economy.
“The American people aren’t very happy about their leaders, but President Barack Obama is viewed as the best of the worst, especially when it comes to the economy,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac’s Polling Institute.
The proposal would place the burden on Obama to win debt ceiling increases up to three times, provided he was able to override congressional vetoes — a threshold Obama could manage without a single Republican vote and without massive spending cuts. Conservatives promptly criticized the plan for giving up the leverage to reduce deficits. But the plan raised the prospect of combining it with some of the spending cuts already identified by the White House in order to win support from conservatives in the House.
• Associated Press writers Dave Espo, Laurie Kellman, Ben Feller, Julie Pace, Martin Crutsinger and Erica Werner in Washington and Pallavi Gogoi in New York contributed to this report.