Washington Clears Calendar to Deal with Debt

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All else has temporarily fallen by the wayside as Washington lawmakers scramble to negotiate a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling before the Aug. 2 deadline.

Issues that have taken a backseat include everything from job creation to the military conflict in Libya to education reform.

The White House and congressional leaders talked through the weekend about a plan to keep the government from defaulting on its bills.

Despite five consecutive days of negotiations, they've failed to reach a deal.
         
One Senate plan would give President Barack Obama greater power to raise the debt ceiling while moving toward federal spending cuts. 

"We've already made many, many deep cuts in spending," White House budget director Jack Lew said.

"There is more restraint that we think is in order. He (President Obama) has made it clear, for a big deal there will have to be balance between revenue and spending," he said.
    
But the House is unlikely to go along with the Senate's proposal. House Republicans believe such a move would take away their ability to keep the president from raising taxes.

"So where's the president's plan?" Sen. Marco Rubio challenged. "I've never seen a piece of paper with the president's name on it that's his plan to solve this problem."

Meanwhile, the House is set to pass a Tea Party plan Tuesday to "cut, cap, and balance" the budget.

"Let's let the American people decide," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said on "Fox News Sunday."

"Do they want something common sense as cutting spending, capping the growth in government, and requiring a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution?" he said.
    
Republicans and Democrats, meanwhile, appear to be heading in opposite directions as the Aug. 2 deadline approaches.

Many predict America's fragile economy will be rocked if lawmakers can't agree on a plan to raise the debt ceiling.

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