White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today said the “Grand Bargain” between President Obama and House Speaker Boehner remains on the table, and that discussions between White House and congressional officials continue.
“It’s never been off the table,” said Carney, who spoke during a morning briefing. “If there is the political will to make it happen, it could happen before August 2nd.”
Carney seemed to be giving in to all GOP demands – suggesting that possible tax increases could be developed after spending cuts are passed – except for one: the president’s political team has apparently decided it must have a debt extension beyond Election Day 2012 and may plunge the country into a default crisis if it doesn’t get it.
What a compromise looks like is pretty clear: significant deficit reduction; a mechanism by which Congress would take on the tough issues of tax reform and entitlement reform; and a lifting of the debt ceiling beyond — into 2013 so that we do not have the cloud of uncertainty that is hanging over our economy right now and getting darker and stormier as every day passes for another three months, four months, five months, six months, 10 months.
A “mechanism” – perhaps a commission – is a step back from the White House demands of just last week that specific tax increases be included in the heart of the deal.
Carney said the Boehner bill, which only extends the debt ceiling until the end of the year, will never pass the Senate. White House officials are suggesting that the legislation will Steal Christmas because the debate would start all over again during the holidays.
“The debt ceiling debate would ruin Christmas,” White House political adviser David Plouffe said today on MSNBC.
Boehner continues to round up votes to try to pass his bill. A vote is expected tonight.
Meanwhile, Carney started setting the stage for the potential blame game to come, emphasizing that it’s the job of Congress to raise the debt ceiling and that failure to do so will be its fault, not Obamas.
It is a matter of due diligence and responsible governance that Treasury will, if we approach that date, as we get closer to that date, explain how it would manage a situation that would be created by the failure of Congress to act and would create a situation where for the first time in our history we have lost our borrowing authority and risk default.
We in Washington, and in particular in this case Congress, controls our fate as regards whether or not we will lift the debt ceiling and allow the United States to continue to pay its — its bills and meet its obligations. Well, and Congress has a way of waiting until the last minute to do the right thing. We remain confident that it will.