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Obama gets into debt-reduction debate
White House calls criticism ‘nuts’
Question of the Day
The high-stakes negotiations over the country’s long-term debt problems kicked into another gear Monday as President Obama met separately with the Senate’s two top leaders in hopes of jump-starting a deal.
As the meetings unfolded, the White House dismissed criticisms that the president has been slow to get personally involved.
Press secretary Jay Carney said it was “nuts” to think that everyday Americans care whether Mr. Obama is deeply involved in each and every meeting with congressional leaders, especially as he was making up his mind about the scope of a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan.
Mr. Carney said the White House is confident that a deal will be reached - even after Republicans pulled out of the talks led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden last week - despite a lack of concrete signs that both sides are nearing agreement on how to achieve significant deficit cuts while raising the nation’s borrowing limit before the Treasury Department’s Aug. 2 deadline.
“There is a lot of reason to be optimistic,” Mr. Carney told reporters. “We believe that it’s not only in each side’s political interest, but most importantly, it’s in the country’s economic interest and in the people’s interest.”
Mr. Obama met separately with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. Neither of the senators nor the White House provided specifics about the talks afterward.
Mr. Reid called his meeting “productive” while warning Republicans of playing politics with such a critical issue.
“I hope my Republican colleagues will put the economy ahead of politics … and set aside their desire to please the tea party and defeat President Obama,” Mr. Reid said on the Senate floor after his White House visit. “Neither party should confront this crisis alone.”
Mr. McConnell, meanwhile, insisted Democrats drop their demands that tax increases be included in a deal.
“I will tell [Mr. Obama] what Republicans are looking for in this debate: to cut spending now, cap runaway spending in the future, save our entitlements from bankruptcy and to get our economy moving,” he said before meeting with the president.
Also attending Monday’s meetings was Mr. Biden, who has been leading debt limit discussions with a six-member bipartisan congressional delegation. Those talks broke down Thursday when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, walked out after he complained that Democrats refused to take tax increases off the table.
“We’ve moved from one discussion to another,” he told reporters at the Capitol Monday. “That’s not to say the work we did won’t ultimately, at least in part, be part of an agreement. And we may have to go back and nail it down, so to speak.”
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About the Author
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Kara Rowland, White House reporter for The Washington Times, is a D.C.-area native. She graduated from the University of Virginia, where she studied American government and spent nearly all her waking hours working as managing editor of the Cavalier Daily, UVa.’s student newspaper.
Her interest in political reporting was piqued by an internship at Roll Call the summer before her ...
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