Obama Meets With Congressional Leaders After Debt Talks Collapse

Posted July 23rd, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama met briefly with congressional leaders of both parties Saturday to discuss the impasse on raising the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

The president met with House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — the top Republican and Democrat from each house of Congress. The meeting at the White House lasted just under an hour.

No details about the discussion have been released yet.

Mr. Obama said during his Saturday weekly address that he wants the lawmakers to explain to him how the country will avoid defaulting on its payments after the government runs out of money on August 2. He said both sides must compromise or they will never get anything done.

Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner walked out of talks with the president on Friday. Afterward, he said President Obama had demanded an unacceptable increase in tax revenue that would require raising taxes on the people needed to invest in the economy and create jobs. Boehner said he remains confident the U.S. can avoid defaulting on its payments.

Mr. Obama said Friday after the walkout that he was offering what he called “an extraordinarily fair deal.”

The president said he had proposed significant cuts in discretionary spending and from social welfare programs. He said he also had proposed increasing tax revenue by a lower amount than had been agreed to by a bipartisan group of senators.

In the Republican Party's weekly address Saturday, Representative Jeb Hensarling said if the country is going to avoid default, President Obama and his allies need to work with Republicans to “cut up the credit cards once and for all.”

The U.S. Treasury Department, the central bank and the White House have all warned a default would have catastrophic consequences for the economy. Economists have also said default would have a very negative effect on the global economy.