Obama Invites Lawmakers for Debt Negotiations

Posted July 5th, 2011 at 11:20 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama plans to host the leaders of both political parties at the White House on Thursday to continue negotiations on an increase to the nation's borrowing limit, as a key deadline looms.

Mr. Obama announced the meeting on Tuesday during a rare appearance at a regularly scheduled White House press briefing.

The president warned that he does not support proposals that would provide only a short term solution. And he repeated his call for an agreement before the “last second.”

He said obstacles remain, but he said he believes there are enough lawmakers from both parties who are ready to “get out of their comfort zones” and find a compromise.

However, House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, was pessimistic that Thursday's negotiations would lead to an agreement, saying any deal that included tax hikes “cannot pass the House.”

President Obama and his Democratic party allies in Congress support sharp spending cuts, but want to also raise some taxes on wealthy Americans, oil companies and some others to help close the deficit.

U.S. Treasury officials have repeatedly warned of “catastrophic” economic consequences if Congress does not raise the so-called debt ceiling before August 2. After that date, the government will no longer be able to meet its financial obligations without borrowing additional money.

Washington has run up a total debt of $14.3 trillion, the current legal borrowing limit. But opposition Republicans say they want to see drastic cuts in spending before they will agree to increase that limit.

Talks broke down late last month after Republican lawmakers walked out of negotiations chaired by Vice President Joseph Biden.