Debt Celing Talks Still at at a Standstill

Jul 8, 2011, 10:44 by R.E. Christian

The White House and Congress remain "far apart" on a range of issues on how to reduce the federal deficit, U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday.

Obama and the top leaders of both parties in the House and Senate met to discuss raising the debt ceiling and ways to reduce the nation's deficit.

"I have to say that I thought it was a very constructive meeting. People were frank. We discussed the various options available to us," Obama said after the meeting. "Everybody reconfirmed the importance of completing our work and raising the debt limit ceiling so that the full faith and credit of the United States of America is not impaired."

He did not reveal the substance of the discussions.

Policymakers are under the gun to craft a debt-reduction deal by the end of next week because it's tied to congressional approval of increasing the legal limit on government borrowing.

The deadline gives the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office enough time to analyze the deal and for both chambers to vote on it before Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department has said the government will default on its obligations if Congress doesn't increase the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit.

Obama said attendees decided staffs and leadership would work through the weekend and reconvene at the White House Sunday "with the expectation that at that point the parties will at least know where each other's bottom lines are, and we'll hopefully be in a position to then start engaging in the hard bargaining that's necessary to get a deal done."

He stressed that "nothing is agreed to until everything's agreed to, and the parties are still far apart on a wide range of issues."

All parties know U.S. debt and deficits must be tackled now, Obama said, and everyone acknowledges "we have to get this done before the hard deadline of Aug. 2 to make sure that America does not default for the first time on its obligations."

Just as important, "everybody acknowledged there's going to be pain involved politically on all sides, but our biggest obligation is to make sure that we're doing the right thing by the American people," Obama said, by creating an environment in which the economy and employment can grow.

Source: UPI