It looks like budget discussions between the White House and Republicans are reaching a boiling point. According to what House Republicans told The Hill, President Barack Obama stormed out of the negotiations after threatening House Majority Leader Eric Cantor:
Republicans said tense negotiations over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit at the White House ended when President Obama stormed out of the meeting with a stern warning to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.): “Don’t call my bluff.”
“It ended with the president abruptly walking out of the meeting,” Cantor told reporters upon returning to the Capitol Wednesday.
Cantor said he asked Obama if he would consider allowing two votes on the debt ceiling to give leaders more time to negotiate additional budget savings while avoiding a calamitous default.
“That’s when he got very agitated, seemingly, and said that he had sat there long enough, and that no other president — Ronald Reagan wouldn’t sit here like this — and that he’s reached the point where something’s got to give,” Cantor said, describing the president’s reaction.
“He said to me, ‘Eric, don’t call my bluff. I’m going to the American people with this,’ “ Cantor said. “I was somewhat taken aback,” he added, with a smile.
The Hill notes that Democrats in the meeting say the picture painted by Cantor is “overblown.” Invoking Ronald Reagan is becoming a frequent line for President Obama. He also brought it up during a recent interview with CBS News. Yes, it’s true that Reagan warned of consequences if the country defaulted on the national debt. While this is being employed for obvious reason, it would mean more if Obama hadn’t voted against the debt ceiling increase when he was in the Senate:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.
Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion.That is “trillion” with a “T.” That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.
Numbers that large are sometimes hard to understand. Some people may wonder why they matter. Here is why: This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of America.
And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on.
Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities.
Of course, Obama says he regrets his vote now. That’s convenient. If he wants to take his case to Americans; let him. A new poll from Gallup shows that voters are not too thrilled with the idea of increasing the debt ceiling; including a plurality of independents. He has spoken to the public on the issue already, and they are still opposed to it.
Also, the same day these budget negotiations turned south, Moody’s warned again that the nation’s credit rating is at risk; but as James Pethokoukis noted, the Treasury will have the cash flow available to make sure that debt obligations are paid and still meet payments for entitlements and essential defense.
We’ll keep an eye on what happens over the next few days. Stay tuned.