Obama team threatens to veto Boehner debt plan
By David Jackson, USA TODAY
While waiting for Congress to make its next move, the Obama administration today threatened to veto the two-step debt reduction plan put up by House Speaker John Boehner -- though they're pretty sure it won't come to that.
"The speaker's proposal cannot pass the Senate, will not pass the Senate, will not reach the president's desk," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Carney had nicer things to say about a plan put forth by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., but acknowledged it might not pass the Republican House.
Hence the need for compromise, Carney said, echoing the theme of Obama's speech Monday night.
In those remark, Obama said, "I've told leaders of both parties that they must come up with a fair compromise in the next few days that can pass both houses of Congress -â€“ and a compromise that I can sign."
Carney said today, "We have a divided government. We have a two-party system. No party controls every branch of government. Compromise is the only option."
Boehner's two-step plan would first increase the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by $1 trillion, along with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years. The debt ceiling increase would be good for about six months
The plan calls for a special commission to recommend an additional $1.8 trillion in future cuts -- including entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- in exchange for an additional $1.6 trillion increase in the debt ceiling.
Obama said he objected to Boehner's temporary extension of the debt ceiling, saying it would "force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now. "
The Boehner plan also "might not be enough to avoid a credit downgrade and the higher interest rates that all Americans would have to pay as a result," Obama said.
It's not clear Boehner would get support from a majority of House Republicans who say they want more spending cuts.
House Republicans question the reality of the $2.7 trillion in spending cuts proposed in the Senate plan from Reid. The Senate Democratic plan would add $2.4 trillion to the debt ceiling, enough to extend borrowing authority past 2012 (a re-election year for Obama).
Obama called the Reid plan "a much better approach," but said, "Serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform."
Carney said today, "It's time for Democrats to give, for Republicans to give, to reach a solution that's not ideal for anyone, except for the country."
If they can't reach a consensus, what's Plan B?
"We're working on Plan B," Carney said.