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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Obama's "Blinking" On GOP Tax Cuts For Debt Ceiling? I Hope Not!

Wait A Minute!

Do I See Pres. Obama "Blinking" (Again) On Tax Cuts Vs. Tax Increases?

Lord Knows I Hope Not!

If Pres. Obama "Blinks" Again On GOP Tax Cuts, He'll Lose My Respect & The Respect Of Many Other Supporters!

I Hope Middle Class, Low Income, Senior Citizens, Veterans & College Student Voters Are NOT Thrown Under The Bus Again For Wall Street, Oil & Other GOP Special Interests!

Its Time For Barack Obama: The Man We Voted For In 2008, To Stand Tall & Stop "Blinking" To Republicans!

What's Wrong With Him?

Come On Obama!

Its Time To Raise Taxes On The Super Rich Versus Continuing To Keep Financially Abusing Middle & Lower Income Citizens!

Don't "Blink" Pres. Obama!

Decision 2012

Obama Calls Debt Talks Constructive, but Big Gaps Remain

President Obama said on Thursday that budget negotiations at the White House had been “very constructive,” though the two sides “were still far apart on a wide range of issues.”

He said that the talks would continue into the weekend, and that Congressional leaders would meet with him again on Sunday.

At the weekend session, the president said, he hoped that Democrats and Republicans would “at least know where each other’s bottom lines are,” allowing them to enter critical bargaining over a multi-trillion-dollar package that would reduce the deficit and spare the federal government from defaulting on its debts.

Mr. Obama, appearing at the White House after meeting with Speaker John A. Boehner and other Republican and Democratic leaders, said both sides had pledged to come to an agreement before Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department says the government will reach a debt ceiling that will make further borrowing impossible.

“Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to,” Mr. Obama said of the substance of the talks, which are ranging across entitlement programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as tax-related measures like the closing of loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporate interests.

“People were frank,” Mr. Obama said. “We discussed the various options that are available to us.”

The president’s renewed efforts follow what knowledgeable officials said was an overture from Mr. Boehner, who met secretly with Mr. Obama last weekend, to consider as much as $1 trillion in unspecified new revenue as part of an overhaul of tax laws in exchange for an agreement that made substantial spending cuts, including in social programs.

At a news conference before the meeting, Mr. Boehner, of Ohio, told reporters that “everything’s on the table, except raising taxes” on the American people, and he added that a tax overhaul that would close breaks and lower rates was part of the discussion.

Mr. Boehner also said that changes were needed in benefit programs for the poor and elderly to ensure their long-term viability.

“We know the entitlement programs are important programs for tens of millions of Americans,” Mr. Boehner said, “but we also know that if there are not reforms, that they won’t exist in the future.”

The intensifying negotiations between the president and the speaker have Congressional Democrats growing anxious, worried they will be asked to accept a deal that is too heavily tilted toward Republican efforts and produces too little new revenue relative to the magnitude of the cuts.

Congressional Democrats said they were caught off guard by the weekend White House visit of Mr. Boehner, and Senate Democrats raised concerns at a private party luncheon on Wednesday.

House Democrats have their own fears about the negotiations, which they expressed in an hourlong meeting Wednesday with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.

“Depending on what they decide to recommend, they may not have Democrats,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, said in an interview. “I think it is a risky thing for the White House to basically take the bet that we can be presented with something at the last minute and we will go for it.”

Officials said Mr. Boehner suggested that he was open to the possibility of $1 trillion or more in new revenue that would be generated by addressing tax issues already raised in the talks, like killing breaks for the oil and gas industry, eliminating ethanol subsidies and ending preferential treatment for corporate jets.

But those changes would fall far short of the revenue goal, and the source of the rest of the money would, under what they described as Mr. Boehner’s proposal, be decided by Congress through a review of tax law changes. One official said some revenue could be generated by allowing Bush-era tax cuts for affluent Americans to expire at the end of 2012, which would produce hundreds of billions of dollars, though those savings would be offset by the costs of retaining lower rates for those below the income threshold.

Aides to Mr. Boehner said that he had not agreed to the expiration of any tax cuts.

One source familiar with the talks said the speaker had put forward options on how to proceed, including making a commitment to a tax code overhaul that would lower rates while closing loopholes, ending deductions and instituting other changes to generate substantial new revenue. Mr. Boehner has in the past pushed tax simplification as a way to help the economy.

Democrats were distrustful of Mr. Boehner’s idea, saying such an approach raises the prospect that future tax and revenue changes could be blocked by Republicans after Democrats had already agreed to the detailed cuts. They sought assurances that all the elements of any budget deal would be enacted simultaneously.

Democrats are not just worried about the substantial policy issues at stake; they are also concerned about the political implications of any deal as they try to hold control of the Senate next year and win back the House.

To the degree that any deal wins bipartisan support on slowing the growth of Medicare, for example, it would deprive Democrats of what has been one of their most potent arguments heading into 2012: their assertion that Republicans would gut the traditional Medicare system and leave older Americans vulnerable to rapidly rising health care costs.

Faced with the prospect that the federal government would default on its credit obligations, Democrats might indeed be cajoled into backing an agreement they did not strongly support. But at the moment, there is substantial private and public grumbling about what looms ahead.

Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, urged the president not to yield to Republican demands to reduce the deficit by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid and other domestic spending. He said that “the president has got to demand that at least 50 percent of deficit reduction come from revenues,” including higher taxes on the wealthy and large corporations.

At the same time, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second-ranking Republican in the House after Mr. Boehner, has said that he will not accept any net increase in federal revenues, and that any money raised from eliminating tax breaks or loopholes must be offset by cuts elsewhere in the tax code.

“If the president wants to talk loopholes, we’ll be glad to talk loopholes,” Mr. Cantor said on Wednesday. White House officials acknowledge the unrest among Democrats. But they argue that Democrats will be in stronger shape politically heading into November 2012 if they help enact a credible deficit reduction deal, allowing them to mount the argument that they protected Medicare from a much more drastic overhaul by Republicans.

In contrast, they say, failure to produce an agreement could bring unpredictable and unfavorable economic and political consequences.

The officials are convinced that a larger package — one that would demand deeper cuts and more taxes but put the nation on a sounder fiscal footing for a decade or longer — is more politically palatable than the $2 trillion-plus package that was being cobbled together in talks presided over by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

And not all Democrats see the push for a major package as a negative.

“We don’t need a minideal,” Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “We need something that speaks authoritatively to the world that the United States understands its deficit challenge and is prepared to make the hard choices to address it.”

Sources: Christian Science Monitor, CNN, Daily Beast, NY Times

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