No Deal in Sight After President Obama, Speaker Boehner Address Nation
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner address the nation.
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, both delivered primetime television addresses to the nation Monday night appealing to the American people to see it their way in the escalating debt limit crisis.
The back-to-back speeches by the political leaders, a rare event outside of the annual State of the Union event, were evidence of the seriousness of the situation.
President Obama spoke for about 15 minutes, followed shortly by Rep. Boehner for about five minutes. The only thing that was clear after the addresses is that the U.S. political system remains unable to find a way to increase its borrowing limit and prevent a potential economic catastrophe.
President Obama focused on the need to compromise, as well as what he said was the unfair demand from Republicans that no tax increases be included in any deal. Read his full remarks here and see video of the speech here.
“Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask corporate jet owners and oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get. How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?”
Speaker Boehner spoke to his party’s desire to cut government spending. You can read and watch his address here.
“The president has often said we need a ‘balanced’ approach — which in Washington means: We spend more; you pay more. Having run a small business, I know those tax increases will destroy jobs. The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. As the father of two daughters, I know these programs won’t be there for them and their kids unless significant action is taken now.”
The public statements, especially from the president, seemed aimed at getting Americans involved in the debate. President Obama asked the audience to contact their members of Congress to let them know they support a “balanced approach” to reducing the deficit.
And Congress is likely where any compromise will happen, as party leaders in the House and Senate search for enough votes to pass either Rep. Boehner’s two-step, $3 trillion in cuts plus debt limit increase or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s $2.7 trillion deficit reduction and debt limit increase that would take the limit past the 2012 elections.
The text of the Speaker Boehner proposal was posted Monday night. You can read a summary of it here.
While the White House signaled Monday that it supports Sen. Reid’s plan, it’s unknown whether it would get enough votes in the Republican-controlled House or enough votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.
Meanwhile, there were signs that Rep. Boehner’s plan would not fly with conservatives in his caucus. Molly K. Hooper and Erik Wasson of the Hill report that Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, rejected the plan, as did Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.
The next steps are unclear, but expect the remaining week on Capitol Hill to be full of debate, private meetings and bargaining.
THE GOP  RESPONSE
SpeakerBoehner may have given the official Republican rebuttal to the president’s address about the national debt Monday night, but that didn’t stop a few of the 2012 GOP contenders from getting in on the action as well.
First out of the gate was former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who released a statement accusing the president of “lecturing the country instead of leading it.”
Pawlenty said the speech “was all rhetoric and no results, and is another reason why President Obama needs to be removed from office.”
The other GOP candidates were equally harsh with their criticism of the president.
“Shame on President Obama for casting the American people aside as collateral damage, as he continues his political gamesmanship with the national debt crisis,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said in a statement.
Rep. Bachmann also repeated her assertion that the debt limit does not need to be raised. “Rather than scaring seniors and veterans, it’s time to make the tough choices and make the spending cuts necessary to put our nation on the path to prosperity, lower spending and a balanced budget,” Rep. Bachmann argued.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also blasted the president’s handling of the debt crisis, attempting to use some of President Obama’s own words against him.
“President Obama said tonight that ‘people are fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word,’ but what people are fed up with is a president who uses class warfare as a crutch to divide rather than focusing on solving the issues affecting each and every American,” Santorum said.
With just one week left to reach a deal, it’s clear some of the Republican contenders are maximizing the impasse over the debt talks to land a few hits on the president. Of course, persistence of the deadlock beyond the Aug. 2 deadline will almost certainly produce another flurry of statements.
BACHMANN VS. PAWLENTY, CONT.
The Republican candidates also had some tough words for each other Monday.
As we noted Monday, the feud between the two Minnesotans in the GOP field has grown more combative in recent days, with Rep. Bachmann now directly engaging former Gov. Pawlenty on his attacks against her record in Congress.
The Des Moines Register’s Jens Krogstad has the latest on Pawlenty’s move Monday to step up his criticism, charging that the congresswoman has a history of “saying things that are off the mark.”
More from Krogstad:
“At a campaign stop Monday in Davenport, Pawlenty questioned the accuracy of Bachmann’s criticisms and also reiterated a common theme of his campaign: In the GOP field, only he has a strong conservative record of accomplishment.
“‘There’s one thing to be against Obamacare and give a speech against it; it’s another thing to lead the charge in Minnesota to opt out of it and take health care in a different and better way,’ he said.”
NOT FEELING THE FIELD
When it comes to winning over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, it’s safe to say that the 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls have some more wooing to do.
During a Monday visit to Des Moines for an education summit hosted by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Gov. Christie told reporters that he was not yet sold on any of the GOP candidates.
Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson has the full quote, plus audio:
“‘If someone has distinguished themselves in a way on the issues that I care about, that if I feel enthusiastic enough to endorse them, I will. Now, as was alluded to in one of the earlier questions, I’m not a half-way kind of guy, so if I’m going to get in and support someone I’m going to do it 100 percent and to get there, I have to feel that way about one of the people offering themselves for president and so if that moment comes, I certainly won’t keep it a secret, but I certainly am under no legal obligation to endorse anybody,’ he said. ‘….If I felt it right now, I’d endorse somebody. I don’t.’”
Gov. Christie has repeatedly denied interest in seeking the GOP nomination himself, despite pleas from some Republicans who have urged him to reconsider. Looking to downplay his presence in the first-in-the nation caucus state just one month out from the Ames Straw Poll, Henderson reports that Gov. Christie twice said he came to Iowa after being invited by Gov. Branstad.
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