sábado, julio 30, 2011

Reid Dismisses Hopes of a Breakthrough on Debt Crisis

In the most vivid illustration yet of the confusion surrounding the debt crisis, the two leading Congressional Republicans announced that they had reopened fiscal talks with the White House in a last-ditch drive to come to terms, only to have the top Senate Democrat leader quickly dismiss the idea that a breakthrough was at hand.

In the wake of the House’s sharp rejection of a Democratic proposal to raise the debt limit, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader and a linchpin in efforts to reach a deal, said he and Speaker John A. Boehner were “now fully engaged” in efforts with the White House to find a resolution that would tie an increase in the debt limit to spending cuts and other conditions.

“I’m confident and optimistic that we’re going to get an agreement in the very near future and resolve this crisis in the best interests of the American people,” said Mr. McConnell, who noted he was personally talking to both Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a favorite partner in past negotiations.

A Democratic official with knowledge of the talks said that Mr. McConnell called Vice President Joseph Biden early Satutrday afternoon, the first conversation between the two men since last Wednesday. The official said the two men talked four additional times on Saturday as they tried to work out an agreement.

The deal they were discussing, this person said, resembled the bill that Mr. Boehner won approval for in the House more than it did the one that Mr. Reid had proposed in the Senate. It would raise the debt ceiling by $1 trillion and set up a bipartisan committee that would work to find $1.6 trillion in more cuts, which would take the country past the 2012 election.

If the committee cannot come up with the cuts, a trigger mechanism would be set up taking the cuts out of entitlements or other areas to be determined. The official acknowledged that while getting the money from additional revenue was a possibility.

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, called members of the Senate to the floor to hear him dispute the claims by Mr. McConnell and accuse Republicans of failing to enter into serious negotiations even as the Treasury risked running out of money to pay all its bills after Tuesday.

“The speaker and Republican leader should know that merely saying you have an agreement in front of television cameras doesn’t make it so,” Mr. Reid said after returning from a visit to the White House with Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader in the House

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