News / USA

US Debt Talks 'Constructive', Significant Differences Remain

President Barack Obama, flanked by House Speaker John Boehner (l) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, meets with Congressional leadership in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 7, 2011
President Barack Obama, flanked by House Speaker John Boehner (l) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, meets with Congressional leadership in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 7, 2011

President Barack Obama says he had "constructive" talks with congressional leaders at the White House Thursday seeking a compromise to reduce government deficits and allow raising the federal borrowing limit.  But, Mr. Obama says differences remain on a wide range of issues.

Mr. Obama said he and the eight Republican and Democratic leaders discussed "various options" and reaffirmed the importance of raising the federal debt limit to avoid a government default.

He said all acknowledged that debt and deficits issues needs to be solved now, adding that House and Senate lawmakers need to work hard before the August 2 deadline established by the Treasury Department to avoid a federal default on obligations.

"Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to, and the parties are still far apart on a wide range of issues," said President Obama. "But all the leaders came in a spirit of compromise and a spirit of wanting to solve problems on behalf of the American people."

The president says White House and congressional staffs will work over the weekend, and he is bringing leaders back to the White House on Sunday to begin "hard bargaining" to get a deal done.

Mr. Obama signaled earlier this week that he believed conditions are right for a broader deficit reduction package,  what he called "something big".  This could involve as much as $4 trillion in deficit reductions over at least 10 years.

The White House says such a plan could involve savings in the government's Medicare and Medicaid programs, which Democratic lawmakers are fiercely protective of, and reducing rising costs in the Social Security system.

Press Secretary Jay Carney repeatedly avoided getting into specifics about any progress, and declined to say whether the discussions became contentious at any point.  He also responded to what he called "misperceptions" conveyed by some media reports that Mr. Obama has made Social Security a major bargaining chip.

"Social Security is not a contributor to our short and medium term deficit problem, so when you are building a plan to deal with your short and medium term deficit problem, Social Security is not an issue," said Carney.

On Capitol Hill late Thursday, one participant in the talks, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said House Democrats reject any reductions in benefits Americans receive from Medicare or Social Security.

"Do not consider Social Security a piggy bank for giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country," said Pelosi. "We are not going to balance the budget on the backs of America's seniors, women and people with disability."

Earlier,  House Speaker John Boehner called dealing with short and long term debt problems critically important, but he and other Republicans reiterated their opposition to tax increases and eliminating certain loopholes benefiting wealthier Americans.

"We are not going to raise taxes on the American people," said  Boehner. "We are not going to raise taxes on the very people that we expect to re-invest in our economy and to help grow jobs."

The House Majority Leader, Republican Eric Cantor, said talks were beginning their "final stage" and referred to progress made in an initial series of negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden.

"There was a blueprint on the table where there could be over $2 trillion in savings," said Cantor.

Ultimately, a compromise will include elements of Mr. Obama's own proposals, those from Democrats and Republicans, and the recommendations of two bipartisan independent commissions.

In a statement Thursday, the co-chairs of one of those panels, Alice Rivlin and former Senator Pete Domenici, urged lawmakers to "put aside partisan theatrics" and reach a deal that includes revenues, government entitlement programs and annual spending.

Press Secretary Carney told reporters that no single plan will end up being the ultimate compromise that agreed upon.   As for the negotiations ahead of the August 2 debt ceiling deadline, Carney said "we are in the end game."  

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs