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Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2011

If debt deal near, Obama would OK stopgap measure

July 21, 2011

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— Running out of time, President Barack Obama softened his stand and signaled Wednesday he would back a short-term deal to prevent a disastrous financial default on Aug. 2, but only if a larger and still elusive deficit-cutting agreement was essentially in place. He called lawmakers to the White House in a scramble to find enough votes from both Republicans and his own party.

Obama met with the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, and then separately with House Speaker John Boehner and his deputy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, in hopes of cobbling together a big compromise. All signs pointed to a legislative fight that would play out to the end.

The president, pushing for a deal that would cut the nation’s budget deficit across the next decade and extend the government’s tapped-out borrowing power through the approaching election year, had threatened to veto any stopgap expansion of the nation’s debt limit. He even challenged Cantor, R-Va., not to call his bluff about it in one confrontational moment last week.

Obama’s now-calibrated position, offered by spokesman Jay Carney, reflected the reality: leaders are nearly out of time to head off unprecedented trouble. Carney said if a divided Congress and the White House can agree on a significant deal, Obama would accept a “very short-term extension” of the debt limit to let bigger legislation work its way through Congress.

Even a few days matters, given the stakes.

The government will exhaust its ability to borrow money and pay its bills come Aug. 2, an outcome that could sink the country back into recession, halt Social Security checks, send interest rates higher and erode the creditworthiness of the richest nation on earth.

The White House made clear Obama still opposes a short-term extension of the debt limit on the order of 30 days or more on the grounds that would just punt the problem. He reiterated that views in his meetings with lawmakers, a Democrat familiar with the talks said.

An aide to Boehner, R-Ohio, said the Republican leaders and the president will continue to talk, but no meeting had been scheduled.

Those familiar with the talks spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose details of the private discussions at the White House. All sides were keeping information tight as time slips by and negotiations grow sensitive.

The latest talks centered on what it will take to muster enough votes from both parties to muscle legislation through the House and Senate and raise the national debt limit. Congressional leaders say they want to prevent default, but they are far from agreed on how.

The divided-by-party nature of Obama’s negotiations underscored his need to get a bottom line from Democrats in both chambers and the leaders of the Republican-run House.

His challenge with fellow Democrats is to persuade them to accept changes to the popular entitlement programs of Medicare and Social Security. With Republicans, Obama is slamming into opposition from conservatives who refuse to consider tax increases. Obama wants a mixed approach of higher taxes on the wealthy and spending cuts that share the pain.

Comments

Flap Doodle 2 years, 9 months ago

Woo hoo! You waited almost a whole day before repeated the same unattributed drivel on this award-winning website, merrill. Why are you hiding your source on this?

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 9 months ago

Congressional millionaires want more sacrifice from those on SS ?

Top 5 Social Security Myths

Myth #1: Social Security is going broke. Reality: There is no Social Security crisis. By 2023, Social Security will have a $4.6 trillion surplus (yes, trillion with a 'T'). It can pay out all scheduled benefits for the next quarter-century with no changes whatsoever.

After 2037, it'll still be able to pay out 75% of scheduled benefits—and again, that's without any changes. The program started preparing for the Baby Boomers' retirement decades ago. Anyone who insists Social Security is broke probably wants to break it themselves.

===== Myth #2: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer. Reality: This is a red-herring to trick you into agreeing to benefit cuts. Retirees are living about the same amount of time as they were in the 1930s. The reason average life expectancy is higher is mostly because many fewer people die as children than they did 70 years ago.

What's more, what gains there have been are distributed very unevenly—since 1972, life expectancy increased by 6.5 years for workers in the top half of the income brackets, but by less than 2 years for those in the bottom half. But those intent on cutting Social Security love this argument because raising the retirement age is the same as an across-the-board benefit cut.

===== Myth #3: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security. Reality: Social Security doesn't need to be fixed. But if we want to strengthen it, here's a better way: Make the rich pay their fair share. If the very rich paid taxes on all of their income, Social Security would be sustainable for decades to come.

Right now, high earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,000 of their income. But conservatives insist benefit cuts are the only way because they want to protect the super-rich from paying their fair share.

===== Myth #4: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs Reality: Not even close to true. The Social Security Trust Fund isn't full of IOUs, it's full of U.S. Treasury Bonds. And those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.

The reason Social Security holds only treasury bonds is the same reason many Americans do: The federal government has never missed a single interest payment on its debts. President Bush wanted to put Social Security funds in the stock market—which would have been disastrous—but luckily, he failed. So the trillions of dollars in the Social Security Trust Fund, which are separate from the regular budget, are as safe as can be.... for now.

===== Myth #5: Social Security adds to the deficit Reality: It's not just wrong—it's impossible! By law, Social Security's funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can't add one penny to the deficit

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 9 months ago

It is as plain as day to anyone who has been watching. The Republican Terrorist Party has been posturing and posing and preening to attempt to destroy the current administration in the 2011 election. They couldn't care less about anything but getting elected so they can wreak their Bush era politics on the country again. The clueless voters that voted in these tea baggers and Republican Terrorists have cast a pall over the Democratic system with their obstinate and rigid dogma and will cause irreparable harm to the country with their twisted logic. We only have to look at the damage that is being done in Kansas by the Republican governer, attorney general and other doctrinaire and bigoted religious wonks that we have elected.

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grammaddy 2 years, 9 months ago

Oh knock off the 3-ring-circus and just invoke the 14th.You've tried Mr. President,we know you have.Let the tax cuts expire and invoke the 14th. Show the Regurgicans you won't be a party to their blackmail.

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