Obama, Congressional Leaders Meet for Debt Reduction Talks

Posted July 11th, 2011 at 4:05 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama called for more budget talks Monday at the White House after having failed to reach a deal with Republicans.

President Obama also will hold a news conference Monday focusing on the status of the deficit and debt negotiations.

Mr. Obama met briefly Sunday with top congressional leaders at the White House about what so far has been an elusive deal with Republicans on raising the nation's debt ceiling.

The talks lasted less than 90 minutes – much shorter than expected. No progress was reported, but all sides agreed to meet again Monday. When a reporter asked Mr. Obama if it is possible to reach a deal within the next 10 days, he said, “We have to.”

The United States faces an August 2 deadline before the current ceiling is reached and the country faces default on its debt for the first time in its history.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told NBC television's Meet the Press on Sunday that failing to raise the amount the government can borrow to pay what it owes investors would cause “catastrophic damage” to the U.S. economy.

The new head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said on ABC's This Week that there would be “real nasty consequences” for the global economy, too – including interest rate increases and tumbling stock markets. But Lagarde said she cannot imagine U.S. leaders letting the nation default on its debts.

The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner, has said he is giving up efforts to reach a comprehensive deal with the White House to cut the federal deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years. Boehner said he told President Obama that he wants to pursue a smaller $2 trillion deficit reduction deal.

Republicans have been adamant that they will not support higher taxes. Instead, Boehner said negotiators should focus on deficit reductions identified by a bipartisan group led by Vice President Joe Biden.

Mr. Obama said earlier that congressional Democrats and Republicans need to make political sacrifices to meet the nation's fiscal challenges.