House Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday accused the Obama administration of dragging its feet regarding ongoing deficit reduction talks with congressional leaders, saying the nation’s economy could suffer unless a deal is struck soon.
“Where’s your plan, Mr. President?” the Ohio Republican told reporters at the Capitol. “If the White House wants to get this done, it’s time for them to step up the plate and get serious about it.”
Vice President Joseph R. Biden has been meeting regularly for a month with a bipartisan group from Congress — three members each from the House and Senate — to discuss ways to lower the nation’s ballooning debt.
A key point in the talks is finding a way to increase the $14.294 trillion debt ceiling — the government’s legal limit on how much it can borrow to pay for its operations and debt. Exceeding the limit could lead to the U.S. defaulting on its loans, a scenario that would damage the nation’s credit rating and could trigger another financial crisis.
The government hit the debt limit last month, though Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said he can juggle accounts until Aug. 2.
Republicans want spending cuts to accompany any bump in the debt limit, while Democrats say it’s dangerous to play politics with such an important issue.
Mr. Boehner warned against waiting until the last minute to hammer out a deal, saying such a move could force the financial markets to react negatively.
“It’s pretty clear to us if we don’t act soon to get our fiscal house in order, the markets will act for us,” he said.
Mr. Boehner said the Biden panel talks “have been productive.” But he added that “we haven’t seen enough progress from the White House.”
Mr. Boehner’s statements apparently were aimed directly at President Obama, as Mr. Biden — the White House’s No. 2 man — has been leading the talks.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday said the president is committed to reaching a deal on the debt limit quickly.
“That is why he has asked the vice president to lead the … negotiations,” Mr. Carney said. “We are optimistic …. those talks will produce an agreement.”