John Boehner Wants Vote on Debt Ceiling

Jul 12, 2011, 09:37 by R.E. Christian

The only Republican concession President Obama should expect in the U.S. budget talks is a vote raising the federal debt limit, House Speaker John Boehner said.

"Most Americans would say that a 'balanced' approach is a simple one -- the administration gets its debt-limit increase and the American people get their spending cuts and their reforms," Boehner said at a news conference Monday before heading to the White House for a bipartisan deficit-reduction and debt-limit meeting.

"And adding tax increases to the equation doesn't 'balance' anything," Boehner said.

Obama often describes his budget-discussion desire as seeking a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction.

At a news conference before Monday's talks Obama repeated his desire and said he was "prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done -- and I expect the other side should be willing to do the same thing."

He said unless Republicans were willing to budge on their refusal to raise taxes on America's wealthy, "I do not see a path to a deal."

Republicans said they would not raise taxes and were already taking heat for considering an increase in the legal limit on the debt, which stands at a record $14.3 trillion.

The eight congressional leaders agreed to meet again with Obama at the White House at 3:45 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

Obama said he expected them to meet daily -- including through the weekend, if necessary -- to seal a deficit-reduction deal before Aug. 2. That is when U.S. Treasury officials say the United States will begin to default on its obligations if the debt ceiling is not lifted.

Lawmakers of both parties have refused to raise the debt limit without a plan to restrain the debt in the future.

The real agreement deadline is July 22, to give time for the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to analyze the deal and for both parties in both chambers to sell the deal to their respective rank and file, officials said.

Monday's meeting focused on a Republican-proposed $2.4 trillion alternative to Obama's so-called $4 trillion grand bargain, officials of both parties said.

The smaller package was under discussion in talks led by Vice President Joe Biden that broke down last month.

In addition to major cuts to domestic agencies, the House GOP proposal calls for slicing $250 billion from Medicare over 10 years, in part by asking well-off seniors to pay more for health coverage, The Washington Post reported.

Obama rejected this, arguing he would not ask "moderate-income seniors to bear $500 or more of additional costs when you couldn't ask the most well-off Americans to give an extra $5 to getting the deficit down," the Post said, citing a Democratic official familiar with the discussions.

Source: UPI