The issues central to the fight in Minnesota are at the heart of the debate in Washington about how to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, while at the same time reaching an agreement to reduce the country's deficits in the future. Obama and congressional Democrats want to help reduce the deficits by raising taxes but Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have refused.
Obama said in a news conference at the White House earlier this week, "You can't reduce the deficit to the levels that it needs to be reduced without having some revenue in the mix. And the revenue we're talking about isn't coming out of middle class families who are struggling; it's coming out of folks who are doing extraordinarily well."
Vice President Joe Biden had been meeting for weeks with congressional leaders from both parties in an effort to hash out an agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling before Aug. 2.
After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada blasted Republicans for bailing on the negotiations because they refused to scrap tax breaks for Big Oil companies or do away with tax loopholes for corporate jets, McConnell replied that the GOP simply will not agree to higher taxes as the country continues to try to recover from recession.
"They're saying that it's essential," he said. " We think it's a job-killing step that shouldn't be taken."