Dog Days of Debt Meetings Continue

July 14, 2011

By , FoxNews

Contentious Wednesday White House Meeting Preludes Yet Another

“Enough is enough. … I’ll see you all tomorrow.”

— President Obama ending Wednesday’s debt and deficit meeting with congressional leaders at the White House

Under the weight of tedious negotiations and a clock that’s ticking more loudly towards the Treasury Department’s August 2 debt ceiling deadline, the exchanges between the president and congressional Republicans reportedly kicked up a notch Wednesday.

Both sides dispute who was the aggressor in a frank discussion between President Obama and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., but regardless of how productive the meeting may have been up to that point, it’s the ending exchange that created the penumbra under which that productivity has been hidden.

“He (the president) became very agitated,” Cantor told Fox News after the meeting. ‘Said ‘Ronald Reagan wouldn’t sit here. You either have to compromise on the dollar figure or the grand bargain’….He said ‘don’t call my bluff. I’m going to the American people on this.'”

Some inside the meeting contend that bluff was a veto threat from the president if Congress passes a short-term debt ceiling increase without presenting a greater, long-term plan. A presidential veto of such a proposal would essentially run the federal government straight into the debt ceiling and potentially into default.

Democratic sources close to the meeting maintain the president was simply continuing his commitment to a long-term deal and that he, with great conviction, shut down what had become an unproductive conversation at the end of the one hour, fifty minute meeting.

But much like a hot summer afternoon thunderstorm, the negative rhetoric came pouring out within minutes of the president leaving the room. And that’s the narrative that emerged from the fourth meeting of the week.

Taken in tandem with the news that earlier in the afternoon, Moody’s Investors Service placed the U.S. AAA bond rating under review if a move to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the federal deficit isn’t made, the contentious nature of Wednesday’s meeting is amplified. And that likely sets a tense undertone for Thursday’s fifth-straight meeting in the White House Cabinet Room.

Taxes have been the central issue for Republicans who have stood steadfast against increases while Democrats insist that a “shared sacrifice” from upper-income earners is key to a deal. To that end, Senate Dems Thursday plan to introduce a bill to express the sense of the Senate on shared sacrifice in resolving the budget deficit. It’s just another in a list of moves that show the sides are still far apart on a key issue in the talks.

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