White House Rebuffs Republican Invitation on Debt Talks

Posted June 30th, 2011 at 1:45 pm (UTC-5)
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The White House has indicated that President Barack Obama will not accept an invitation to meet Thursday with Senate Republicans on the deficit and debt.

Presidential spokesman Jay Carney says the White House already knows what the Republican position is on the issue.

The top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, invited the president to Capitol Hill to discuss the stalled efforts on cutting the government deficit and raising the U.S. debt ceiling to prevent a default on the nation's loans.

McConnell said Mr. Obama should hear directly from Republicans about why the president's call to eliminate tax breaks for the wealthy will not win congressional approval.

Spokesman Carney said hearing what would not pass in Congress is “not a conversation worth having.”

Mr. Obama on Wednesday challenged Republicans to increase tax revenue from the wealthy to reduce the nation's $1.4 trillion budget deficit. He called for an end to tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires, big oil companies, hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday the Senate is canceling a holiday recess next week to concentrate on the budget talks.

Reid said lawmakers will return to work Tuesday, after the July 4 Independence Day holiday, rather than taking the week off as had been scheduled. He said if the U.S. defaults on its loans, it could push the economy into a “full-blown depression.”

President Obama held talks earlier this week with Senators Reid and McConnell, although no progress was made on restarting joint negotiating sessions.

Talks stalled last week after Republican lawmakers walked out of the sessions chaired by Vice President Joe Biden. They said the White House was using the crisis to push for tax increases.

The United States risks defaulting on its $14.3 trillion national debt unless Congress acts to raise the legal limit on the amount the U.S. government is allowed to borrow by August 2.

Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, say they will not raise the debt ceiling without deep spending cuts. Democrats say Republicans are holding the debt ceiling vote hostage to an ultra-conservative fiscal agenda the Republicans could never enact on their own.