Obama on Debt Talks: We're Going to Get this Done

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President Barack Obama and congressional leaders met again at the White House, Monday, to try and hammer out a deal on raising the government's debt limit and cutting the deficit.

Obama urged both parties to give ground, saying if an agreement isn't reached millions of hardworking Americans would be at jeopardy.

"If you said to the American people, is it a good idea for the United States not to pay its bills and potentially create another recession that could throw millions of more people out of work, I feel pretty confident I can get a majority on my side on that one. And that's the fact," Obama said.

No real progress was made in Monday's talks. Obama said he will meet with lawmakers every day until a deal is reached.

"If not now, when?" Obama said in a press conference before the meeting.

"We are going to get this done," he later insisted.

Democrats and Republicans have two weeks to work out their disagreements, which mainly revolve around taxes.  The goal is to slash the deficit to allow the government to borrow more than $2 trillion to pay its bills.
Perhaps no one knows better than U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner just how high the stakes really are.

"The credit rating agencies around the world have said if Congress doesn't act by the 2nd they will put our -- they will downgrade our credit -- the first time in history," Geithner said.

"And if that happens, you're going to see catastrophic damage across the American economy and across the global economy," he warned.

The president and Democrats are calling for tax increases. They want to end subsidies for oil and gas companies and kill tax breaks for some businesses.

But that's a non-starter for Republicans.

"We're not going to raise taxes in the middle of this horrible economic situation," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

Instead, Republicans want to start trimming Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
The president said late Sunday he's prepared to put Social Security on the table, but some Democratic lawmakers firmly opposed the idea.

"House Democrats are not supporting any cuts in benefits in Social Security and Medicare," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

The economic consequences are clear -- raise the federal government's borrowing limit or face a possible unprecedented default.
The political considerations are also huge, with the president already taking a hit from potential challengers in 2012.

"The problem is not a tax problem. The problem is a spending problem," presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said.

"And so I guess I would say that the place where most people would be -- if we had a leader who was out telling the American public the truth as to what the nature of the problem is -- we could get Democrats to go along with bigger spending cuts than they are now," the former Pennsylvania senator continued.

"We have a president who is in denial," Santorum charged. "He's in denial that we have got entitlements that are out of control, that we have spending that's dramatically increased. We've got government that has grown too big."

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

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