Clock Is Ticking on Debt Agreement


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff William Daley, Press Secretary Jay Carney, adviser David Plouffe and Communications Director Daniel Pfeiffer listen to President Obama during Monday’s news conference at the White House. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Television networks have started displaying countdown clocks to the Aug. 2 deadline by which the Treasury Department says the nation’s debt limit must be increased.

That’s precisely what the Obama administration and congressional leaders had hoped to avoid for fear of rattling the markets. But politicians in Washington seem incapable of functioning without their backs up against the wall.

After yet another meeting at the White House Monday, the bipartisan group of congressional leaders charged with hammering out a deal with President Obama agreed to meet again on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. ET.

According to both Republican and Democratic sources, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., made a presentation to the group Monday about what he believed were the agreed areas of spending cuts in the discussions led by Vice President Joe Biden last month. The total amounted to roughly $1.5-$1.7 trillion in cuts.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., made clear that a “cuts only” package will not get a single Democratic vote. President Obama noted that $1.7 trillion was far short of the $2.4 trillion needed to raise the debt limit through the early part of 2013. Because he refuses to sign a short-term extension, he urged leaders to go back to their members and find additional measures.

As the leaders prepare for their fourth negotiating session in six days, here are your Tuesday morning must-reads:


A Christian counseling clinic owned by Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, has come under fresh scrutiny after a former patient told ABC News that he was advised he could rid himself of homosexual feelings through prayer.

“[One counselor’s] path for my therapy would be to read the Bible, pray to God that I would no longer be gay,” Andrew Ramirez told ABC News in a report that aired Monday night. Ramirez was 17 years old in 2004 when he visited the Bachmann & Associates clinic in suburban Minneapolis.

Ramirez also spoke to the Nation about his therapist, who he said made clear that rejecting homosexuality was a moral necessity. “He basically said being gay was not an acceptable lifestyle in God’s eyes,” Ramirez said.

The ABC News report also revealed undercover video recorded last month by a gay rights advocacy group that reportedly shows therapists recommending similar treatment to one of the organization’s members.

This isn’t the first time questions about the Bachmann’s clinic have surfaced. When asked by a local newspaper in 2006 if his clinic tried to convert patients from gay to straight, Marcus Bachmann responded, “That’s a false statement.”

“If someone is interested in talking to us about their homosexuality, we are open to talking about that. But if someone comes in a homosexual and they want to stay homosexual, I don’t have a problem with that,” he added.

During a radio interview last year Marcus Bachmann said homosexuals were barbarians who “need to be educated … need to be be disciplined.”

Rep. Bachmann is an opponent of same-sex marriage and last week signed a “Marriage Vow,” which included language that suggests homosexuality is a choice and not genetic.

Her conservative bona fides on social issues could very well help her in Iowa, where evangelicals make up a significant portion of the GOP caucus-going electorate. But the focus on the clinic and her views about homosexuality could also pose problems in other parts of the country where voters are less driven by social causes.

For her part, Bachmann sought to turn questions about the clinic back to what will be the main issue of the campaign: the economy. “We’re very proud of our business and all job creators in the U.S.,” she said during a campaign stop in Iowa.


It’s Election Day in Los Angeles. Voters head to the polls Tuesday for a special election to replace former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This should have been a pretty easy hold for Democrats. It’s the first test of non-partisan elections in California in which the top two finishers in the primary move on to a runoff election. Many observers expected two Democrats to emerge in the primary in this Democratic leaning district, but Republican businessman Craig Huey ran a surprisingly strong primary race to end up in Tuesday’s runoff with Democratic City Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

Organizing for America, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other allied Democratic groups have been pouring in get-out-the-vote resources in an effort to hold a district where President Obama won 64 percent of the vote in 2008.

Public opinion polls heading into Election Day show Hahn with a single-digit lead over Huey.

Polls open at 10 a.m. ET and close at 11 p.m. ET. You can get your election results here: LINK

The Los Angeles Times and the New York Times both provide previews of Tuesday’s election.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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