Compromise not on horizon with debt limit a month off

June 29, 2011

By Sean Lengell-The Washington Times

Political leaders on Capitol Hill continue to talk past one another about how to solve the nation’s debt problems as the issue of taxes remains a critical sticking point in negotiations.

And with only five weeks left before the nation risks defaulting on its debt, all sides retreated to familiar talking points on the issue Tuesday, suggesting a compromise is far from sight.

“We’ve had a number of useful meetings,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, told reporters at the Capitol. “But I must say, I’m perplexed as to why the administration seems now to believe that tax increases … would be a good idea in this economy?”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, moments later accused Republicans of being inflexible and playing politics with the economy.

“The talk in Washington, as it should be, is about cutting our deficit. But to do so we have to deal with some hard truths,” Mr. Reid said. “But my Republican friends seem to be living in a fantasy world.”

The senators’ comments came a day after they met separately with President Obama to discuss ways to increase the nation’s debt ceiling – the legal limit within which the federal government can pay for its operations and debt – while also reducing the deficit. Neither the lawmakers nor the White House has offered specifics on what was discussed.

The administration continues to say it is optimistic a compromise can be reached soon.

“We believe there is the opportunity here for a substantial compromise on a significant deficit reduction agreement that is done in a way that is balanced and allows the economy to continue to grow and create jobs,”White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday.

When asked whether Monday’s meetings with the two Senate leaders produced specific results, the spokesman declined to offer any details.

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