McConnell Says 'Real Deal' Not Possible With Obama
By COREY BOLES - wsj.com
WASHINGTON—A "real solution" to U.S. fiscal problems isn't possible as long as President Barack Obama remains in office, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, heightening the rhetoric surrounding the debt-ceiling debate.
Mr. McConnell, the Senate's top Republican, said he had gone into negotiations in good faith over how to formulate a deficit-reduction package to accompany an increase in the statutory borrowing limit.
The Treasury has said the limit must be raised by Aug. 2 to avoid the potential of a U.S. default on its debts, while Mr. Obama has said he wants a deal by July 22.
After the latest negotiations, led by Mr. Obama, Mr. McConnell said he concluded that the administration had "expressed a fundamental unwillingness" to agree to significant spending cuts.
"But after years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable," Mr. McConnell said in a Senate floor speech.
Mr. McConnell gave the speech hours before congressional leaders are set to return to the White House for a third negotiating session in as many days in an attempt to overcome the impasse over how to raise the debt ceiling. A senior aide to the Kentucky lawmaker said he still intended to participate in the White House meeting.
Mr. Obama pressed congressional leaders Monday to forge a $4 trillion, 10-year deal during a contentious negotiating session at the White House. Yet the odds appeared to diminish that Democrats and Republicans can bridge their differences over taxes and social programs to reach such a sweeping plan ahead of the debt-limit deadline.
Meanwhile, major business trade groups urged Mr. Obama and Congress to boost the debt ceiling and reach agreement on a long-term deficit-reduction plan.
"Now is the time for our political leaders to put aside partisan differences and act in the nation's best interests," according to the letter, signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, the Financial Services Forum, the National Association of Manufacturers and others. "We believe that our nation's economic future is reliant upon their actions and urge them to reach an agreement. It is time to pull together rather than pull apart."—Jeffrey Sparshott contributed to this article.
Write to Corey Boles at email@example.com
McConnell, Boehner blast Obama over debt talks
By David Jackson, USA TODAY
Just hours before another White House meeting, the top two Republicans in Congress blasted President Obama today for a debt reduction proposal they say is more specific about taxes than actual budget cuts.
"In my view the president has presented us with three choices," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., referring to efforts to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. "Smoke and mirrors, tax hikes, or default."
"Republicans choose none of the above," McConnell said. "I had hoped to do good; but I refuse to do harm."
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, demanded more specifics from Obama, saying, "Where's the president's plan? When's he going to lay his cards on the table?"
"This debt limit increase is his problem," Boehner said. "I think it's time for him to lead by putting his plan on the table, something that the Congress can pass."
Republican and Democratic leaders are scheduled to meet with Obama at 3:45 p.m., a third straight day of negotiating.
The president has said he will meet with congressional leaders every day until a deal is reached -- but given the increasingly harsh rhetoric, it's hard to see what the meetings are accomplishing.
At one point, McConnell said: "I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable."
Obama will presumably provide a response to the latest Republican comments when he sits down with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley in an interview to be broadcast this evening.
At a news conference yesterday, Obama said he has "bent over backwards" to work with Republicans on a debt reduction deal that makes real cuts, including changes to Social Security and Medicare; in return, Republicans must sign off on new government revenues via the elimination of certain tax breaks for the wealthy.
"I do not see a path to a deal if they don't budge, period," Obama said. "I mean, if the basic proposition is "it's my way or the highway," then we're probably not going to get something done because we've got divided government."
The negotiations are designed to find a way to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and avoid a government default on its obligations.
Republicans, including those who run the U.S. House, say they won't vote for a debt ceiling without offsetting budget cuts.
Obama and the Democrats say any debt reduction plan must be "balanced," including new revenues from the elimination of unfair tax breaks.