As the U.S. debt crisis deepens, President Barack Obama Wednesday invited congressional leaders to the White House to discuss possible solutions. Administration officials are looking for a deal to prevent the U.S. government from defaulting on its obligations.
Thirteen days before the deadline for averting default, White House spokesman Jay Carney says President Obama is discussing debt reduction proposals in separate meetings with Democratic and Republican leaders.
“We need to meet, talk, consult, narrow down what our options are and figure out, in fairly short order, which train we are riding into the station," said Carney.
Carney says the president spoke by telephone with top Democratic and Republican lawmakers Tuesday night to assess progress toward a deal.
The U.S. government will default on some of its obligations on August 2 if its $14.3 trillion legal borrowing limit is not increased. Many opposition Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless the deficit is not cut significantly.
Many Democrats will not accept reductions in social programs, while many Republicans reject any tax increases.
President Obama Tuesday praised a bipartisan plan in the Senate that includes both spending cuts and increased tax revenues. It could trim almost $4 trillion from the deficit. But the so-called “Gang of Six” proposal could be too complicated and not finished to pass before the deadline.
However, spokesman Carney said some of the plan’s provisions could be used in whatever deal receives final approval.
“We know what these proposals look like, and there could be good ideas within the Gang of Six proposal that can be incorporated into the stuff that has already been negotiated between Democrats and Republicans and the administration," he said.
Carney said the president will not accept a short-term debt limit increase unless there is agreement on a broader deficit deal.
“We believe a short-term extension, absent an agreement to a larger deal, is unacceptable," said Carney. "Obviously, if both sides agree to something significant, we will support the measures needed to finalize details.”
The Republican-led House of Representatives Tuesday passed legislation to cut the nation’s debt and allow additional borrowing only if there is a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. The bill is certain to fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and Mr. Obama has said he would veto it if it made it to his desk.