Sources on both sides of the debt negotiations tell me that last night’s meeting did nothing to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats. The only thing negotiators could agree on was to keep meeting. That, plus a shared belief in the room that those who downplay the consequences of default are just plain wrong.
After the President ratchets up the pressure with another press conference this morning, negotiators will go back in and lay out their differing perspectives on the amount of savings agreed to during the talks led by Vice President Biden last month. (Democrats and Republicans could be as much as $1 trillion apart.)
So reaching the fallback $2-2.5 trillion deal may not be all that much easier than the $4 trillion deal that collapsed this weekend. But this morning on “GMA,” Democratic negotiator Sen. Dick Durbin was cautiously optimistic.
“I can tell you the president is determined to keep us there and make certain that we’re focused on the fact that the decision we make in that room will affect families across the American and decide whether this economy is going to recover. If we falter, if we don’t have sufficient political courage and will to get this done and this economy is going to be hurt then it’s going to fall on our shoulders,” he said.
Durbin called on GOP counterparts to “stay at the table” and said both sides need to be willing to put up big items. And he didn’t hesitate to point a finger at Speaker Boehner’s balk at the bigger $4 trillion deal.
“I’m disappointed. Last Thursday there was resolve through most of the leadership, Democrat, Republican, to do something serious and something large enough that would address our deficit in a… serious way but in a coordinated way, bringing everything to the table and being balanced,” Durbin said. “Unfortunately over the weekend Speaker Boehner said ‘I can’t deliver. I can’t produce on my side.’”
So how do they reach a deal in the next few days?
“I think that’s why the president has told us ‘Roll up your sleeves and be prepared to stay and get the job done.’ There have been a lot of folks on the other side of the table who have said ‘Well, maybe we need half a deal, maybe we need it for just a few months,’ and the president said ‘No.’ He’s told us over and over again, ‘We’ve heard your speeches, but this deficit is a moral crisis, it’s holding back our economic recovery and we’ve got to give some certainty to the business community across America about our future,” Durbin told me.
Watch my interview here: