RNC Chair Reince Priebus: August 2 Deadline Not ‘End of the World,’ Won’t Trust Entitlement, Tax Reform Promises

Jul 11, 2011 1:06pm

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf) reports:

Moments after President Obama said Congressional negotiators should “pull off the Band-aid, eat our peas,” and work toward a sweeping entitlement and tax reform package as part of a deal to increase the debt ceiling before an August 2 deadline, Republican National Committee Reince Priebus suggested on ABC News’ “Top Line” that the deadline was not so important, and said that any tax increases whatsoever are unacceptable.

And a liberal Congresswoman soundly rejected the notion of any cuts or changes to social security – something the president also said might need to be done.

The resolve by politicians and officials – from both parties – not sitting at the negotiating table but dismissive of compromise is emblematic of how difficult it will be for President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to reach any sort of accord.

“I never said it would be the end of the world if we were under a debt ceiling budget. I think we have enough revenues to pay our soldiers and we have enough revenues to pay our seniors and we have enough revenue to cover our – our – the debt payments that we owe for our bonds,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Top Line.

But moments before Priebus spoke, the president said there is recognition among leaders of both parties that the August 2 deadline is important.

“The good news is that all of the leaders continue to believe – rightly – that it is not acceptable for us not to raise the debt ceiling and to allow the U.S. government to default. We cannot threaten the United States' full faith and credit for the first time in our history,” he said.

President Obama said Monday that Republicans should come to the table to consider sweeping action on spending, entitlements and the tax code after House Speaker John Boehner said over the weekend that there was not support among House Republicans for a big fix.

“If not now, when?” said the president. “I've been hearing from my Republican friends for quite some time that it is a moral imperative for us to tackle our debt and our deficits in a serious way.  I've been hearing from them that this is one of the things that's creating uncertainty and holding back investment on the part of the business community.”

Karl asked Priebus about the argument by some moderate Republicans, who think that conservatives are giving up the opportunity at real tax reform and real reform of Medicare and Social Security in order to satisfy their political base.

“Isn't this the height of irresponsibility? I mean you have a chance here Republicans have a chance to strike a deal with the President of the United States that would significantly deal with the entitlements and the spending and the debt crisis that gets them, finally, to give in on the issue of cutting benefits something that's been absolutely something they would never consider in the past to get that deal by dealing with them on – with some revenue increases. I mean, why not take that deal? You've got a chance finally to deal with something?” Karl asked.

“Well Jon, because we don't and I don't I mean no one really knows the details of what that deal is. If the deal is we'll trick a deal today to then enter into a negotiation on the core of the deal at a later time that's an unacceptable position to be in. I mean the reality is this is not complicated. We need to cut spending in Washington, right? So if you increase the debt limit you ought to – to decrease spending at an equal or greater amount. That's what we've said all along. That's what I think we need to do, but as far as sabotaging the deal – the president is the one that's sabotaging the deal by proposing tax increases when a majority of Americans don't need it and it would be – or don't want it and it wouldn't be good for our economy,” he said.

The no-compromise attitude is not one solely shared by Republicans. President Obama also said at his press conference that Democrats must consider entitlement reform as a way to bring down the deficit. But a Democratic Congresswoman rejected that idea outright.

“Not now,” said Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md. She pointed out that Social Security is solvent until 2037 and so shouldn’t be included in the deficit and debt negotiations.

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