ABC News’ Rick Klein (@rickklein) reports:
As President Obama engages in high-level talks to reach a deal on the debt ceiling, House Democrats are issuing a stark warning that they’d better be part of any agreement.
On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Rep. John Yarmuth, a member of the House Budget Committee, said it’s not “responsible policymaking” to use debt ceiling talks to determine major policy areas.
“What I think is really unfortunate is that we’re using this debt-ceiling crisis to basically circumvent the budgetary process, and I don’t think that’s responsible policymaking,” said Yarmuth, D-Ky. “You’re not going to end up with anything that the American public understand or appreciates or is willing to buy into if you do this down at the White House, and then present us with a fait accompli.”
Yarmuth pointed out that House Speaker John Boehner will almost certainly need Democratic votes to push through a compromise, given the vow of so many Republicans to oppose a higher debt limit under virtually any circumstances.
“We’re not sure where the negotiations are, so it’s hard to tell how many votes he can actually bring to the table, [and] how many Democrats he would need. It’s all up in the air,” he said. “That’s why I think these quiet negotiations are not the responsible way to go about long-term policymaking. We need to have this process out in the public eye.”
Yarmuth said he’s “willing to have conversations about anything,” including changes to Social Security, as part of budget talks. But he blasted Republicans for ruling out higher taxes as part of a solution.
“It’s clear that they’re not very serious about actually reducing the deficit,” Yarmuth said. “What they’re trying to do is use this debt-ceiling deadline, taking the economy hostage so they can get things done in entitlements that they otherwise could not get through.”
He wants a package that’s tailored to protect the most vulnerable:
“If it’s all an impact on low- and moderate-income Americans, I think it’s going to be a really hard sell in my caucus,” Yarmuth said.
Yarmuth also made a bold prediction: If Rep. Michele Bachmann is the Republican presidential nominee, he told us, “President Obama would win all 50 states.”