Obama Calls Meeting with Leaders "Constructive"

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama declared a debt-crisis session Thursday with Congressional leaders was "very constructive" but said the parties were still far apart on deficit reduction proposals.

He said he would reconvene the negotiators on Sunday.

Thursday's meeting came amid signals that the White House was willing to reduce costs for major benefit programs including social security and Medicare, while Republicans indicated they might consider new steps to raise government revenue.

"People were frank," Obama said, just moments after adjourning the one-and-a-half hour meeting with the eight lawmakers who make up the bipartisan leadership of Congress.

Obama acknowledged that the ultimate agreement will not satisfy partisans on both sides, but he said the deal would require both Republican and Democratic votes to pass Congress.

"Everyone acknowledged that pain will be involved politically on all sides," he said.

Obama met with the leaders of both parties around a table in the White House Cabinet Room as they struggled to reach a deal on raising the government's debt limit with less than four weeks remaining before a possible first-ever default on U.S. financial obligations.

The Obama Administration says the government needs to raise the current $14.3 trillion debt limit by August 2.

Returning to the Capitol after the meeting, House Speaker John Boehner said, "we had a conversation. It was productive."

While discussions on trimming the costs of entitlement programs has centered on Medicare, the health care program for older Americans, the White House is revisiting a proposal raised earlier in the negotiations to change the inflation measurement used to calculate social security cost-of-living adjustments, thus reducing annual increases, officials said Thursday.

The White House has also said the President is aiming for deficit reduction closer to $4 trillion over 10 years -- an ambitious number that would nearly double the roughly $2 trillion that had been at the center of negotiations.

Democratic and Republican officials familiar with the discussions said Thursday that social security was in the mix for potential cost savings. Reintroducing the retirement program to the talks is likely to cause anxiety among Congressional Democrats who have insisted that social security does not contribute to the nation's deficit problems.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the same after Obama spoke.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. They stressed that no aspect of the deal had been accepted by either side.

Obama ignored a question about social security during a photo session at the beginning of the meeting. Carney also declined to discuss options before the negotiators.

(Copyright 2011 by the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Boomer Location: Grand Junction on Jul 8, 2011 at 06:01 AM
    Same old broken record. GOP delusional thinking...make up your own reality. I'm sick of people blaming the current administration for trying to fill in the hole dug by the past admin. Obama is merely trying to end the wars so our kids don't die, get the economy moving (funny how after only a couple of days in office the unemployment rose and stock market went down, ripple affect from lame duck Bush). Who is Barry? I personally think the GOP needs a history leson and maybe an accounting class too.
  • by truth on Jul 7, 2011 at 04:39 PM
    In two years Barry has surpassed what took Bush eight years: Wars started, American kids sent to their death, spending, and days golfing. And you sound like a child Boomer, "The republicans did it. So it's OK."
  • by Disgusted Location: Ritterville on Jul 7, 2011 at 04:26 PM
    It has been 898 days since George Bush has been in office. When will Democrats man up and take responsibility for the train wreck they have caused? 5 trillion dollars additional debt in half a term is pathetic!
  • by Boomer Location: Grand Junction on Jul 7, 2011 at 01:11 PM
    During the dark of night and under cloak the Bush admin. raised the debt limit 19 times. Now all of a sudden its just too much. WOW !!!!! Hypocricy at its best.
  • by Disgusted Location: Ritterville on Jul 7, 2011 at 11:09 AM
    Ah, now the truth is coming out. The ponzi scheme known as Social Security is broke. Looks like the Democrat party is getting ready to break a promise it made to seniors decades ago. Such honorable people, whe are so lucky to have them in charge.
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