Obama Optimistic Debt Talks will Yield 'Big Deal'

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President Obama suspended debt talks Friday, asking congressional leaders to use the day-long recess to consider three deficit reduction options with their members.

During a press conference, the president said lawmakers have a "unique opportunity to do something big" and that he still believes lawmakers can "achieve a big deal."
    
However, there's still a fundamental disagreement over raising taxes.

"I've said I'm willing to make tough spending cuts," the president said. "I'm willing to make modifications to entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid, and I've said in return, let's make sure that folks like myself, who've been extraordinarily blessed are contributing to the sacrifices that are necessary."

GOP lawmakers, however, refused to budge.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, acknowledged at a Friday news conference that "we're in the fourth quarter here" as the two sides try to find a way to boost the debt limit by Aug. 2, when the administration says an extension is needed to avoid a catastrophic federal default.

With the deadline drawing near, the Senate is working on a deal to avoid an unprecedented government default.

However, Boehner told reporters that it is not yet time to consider a plan being crafted by the Senate's two leaders, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"We're far from the time for a last-ditch effort," Boehner said of the McConnell-Reid idea.

The "fallback option" would give the president greater authority to raise the debt ceiling while moving toward federal spending cuts.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., the GOP chairman of the House Budget Committee accused President Obama on Friday of being unwilling to accept the level of spending cuts necessary to avoid constant debt stalemates in Washington.

Ryan said spending cuts must be "much more than what's being talked about right now" if the government is to achieve anything more than a temporary solution during an interview with MSNBC.

Meanwhile, the pressure to find a solution to the debt ceiling standoff got slightly higher Friday. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services announced there's a 50 percent chance it will downgrade the U.S. government's credit rating.
    
The agency says it would do so within three months because of the congressional impasse over approving an increase in the debt ceiling.
    
On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said time is short to find a solution.

"We are a country that meets its obligations," Geithner stated. "We are a county that pays its bills and  we will act and do what's necessary to make sure that we can maintain that commitment.

"As the majority leader said, we've looked at all available options and there is no way to give Congress more time to solve this problem and we're running out of time," he said.

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