Political Stalemate: Congressional Leaders to Meet After Debt Talks Collapse

Obama has called leaders to the White House today to try to restart debt talks.

ByABC News
July 22, 2011, 10:03 PM

July 23, 2011— -- President Obama has called Congressional leaders to the White House this morning to try to restart debt ceiling talks after negotiations collapsed.

The president has called on Speaker of the House John Boehner-- along with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid-- to return to the White House this morning for a meeting at 11 a.m. Boehner said Friday night that he will attend the meeting.

"They are going to have to explain to me how it is that we are going to avoid default. And they can come up with any plans that they want and bring them up here and we will work on them," President Obama said Friday.

Boehner called off talks with the White House on the debt ceiling Friday evening, at a time when White House officials thought they were close to reaching a deal on the debt ceiling.

"It has become evident that the White House is not serious about ending the spending binge that is destroying jobs and endangering our children's future," Boehner said in a letter sent to every member of Congress.

A visibly frustrated President Obama spoke to reporters just as the Boehner's letter was made public.

"It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal, and frankly, if you look at the commentary out there, there are a lot of Republicans that are puzzled as to why it couldn't get done," the president said.

White House officials said Obama made a call to Boehner Thursday evening, but the call went unreturned until 5:30 p.m. on Friday, when Boehner reportedly called and told the president he was calling off negotiations.

"If Speaker Boehner had called back, Americans would have had a deal," a White House official told reporters after the president announced Boehner had pulled out of negotiations.

The speaker said in a press conference Friday night that talks broke down on Thursday, because the White House "moved the goal posts" and called for more revenue increases than had been previously discussed.

"There was an agreement on some additional revenues until yesterday, when the president demanded $400 billion more, which was going to be nothing more than a tax increase on the American people," Boehner said.

Boehner said that, in addition to the White House's insistence on tax increases, that the administration has not been serious about cutting government spending.

But the president told reporters the White House had offered Boehner a generous deal that called for less revenue increases than the "Gang of Six" deal that had been seriously considered earlier this week and had offered over a trillion dollars in discretionary spending cuts, in addition to $650 million in cuts to entitlement programs.

Boehner said he will move forward in talks with Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill to try and strike a deal before the Aug. 2 deadline when the country will default on its financial obligations if the debt ceiling is not raised.

"I think we can work together here on Capitol Hill to forge and agreement, and I'm hopeful that the president will work with us," Boehner told reporters.

The standoff over the failing debt negotiations has hinged on the refusal of a group of Congressional Republicans to consider tax increases as part of the deal, while many Democrats are have been unwilling to consider cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

While the political impasse has broken down party lines, it has been further complicated by internal party divisions.

The president faced a revolt from within his own party on Thursday when news surfaced that president and Boehner were working on a far-reaching deal that would call for cuts to government spending without also immediately raising revenue.

Though the White House sought to draw consensus with Congressional Democrats upset by the terms of the evolving deal on Thursday, it was clear on Friday when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate that tensions were mounting.