Obama: ‘We need to’ work out debt deal within 10 daysWASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Sunday that “we need to” work out a debt deal within the next 10 days as he convened a meeting with congressional leaders, aiming to fashion a deficit reduction package for the next 10 years.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Sunday that “we need to” work out a debt deal within the next 10 days as he convened a meeting with congressional leaders, aiming to fashion a deficit reduction package for the next 10 years.
Obama and the eight top House and Senate leaders hours after House Speaker John Boehner abandoned plans to negotiate a massive $4 trillion deal for reducing the debt.
As the meeting opened, Obama and the leaders sat around the table in Sunday casual dress. Asked whether the White House and Congress could “work it out in 10 days,” Obama replied, “We need to.”
Despite Boehner’s preference for a smaller, $2 trillion plan for deficit reduction, White House aides said Sunday that Obama would press the lawmakers to accept the larger deal. Republicans object to its substantial tax increases and Democrats dislike its cuts to programs for seniors and the poor. The aides, however, left room for negotiations on a more modassembled in the White House Cabinet Room for a rare Sunday session, less than 24 est approach.
“He’s not someone to walk away from a tough fight,” White House chief of staff William Daley said. “Everyone agrees that a number around $4 trillion is the number that will ... make a serious dent in our deficit.” But embedded among the tough words was rhetoric that acknowledged the “big deal’s” prospects had become uncertain at best.
“We’re going to try to get the biggest deal possible,” said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
It was an abrupt change from 24 hours earlier. Republicans late Saturday rejected the $4 trillion proposal, the largest of three under consideration, because its tax increases would doom it in the GOP-led House, Speaker John Boehner said.
The Ohio Republican informed Obama that a package of about $2 trillion, which bipartisan negotiators had identified but not agreed to, was more realistic.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky left little doubt that the $4 trillion deal was dead.
“I think it is,” McConnell said. Raising taxes amid 9.2 percent unemployment, he added, “is a terrible idea. It’s a job killer.”
The statements threw into question the extent to which the Sunday meeting, called for 6 p.m. EDT, would move the talks toward a resolution as an Aug. 2 deadline loomed.
That’s when the nation would begin to default on its debts, administration officials say, if no deal is reached to raise the borrowing limit from $14.3 trillion.