Obama scolds Congress over debt limit negotiations
Amid ongoing frustration over a failure to reach a compromise on the debt limit, President Obama on Wednesday sharply scolded Congress, suggesting his daughters do a better job of getting things done ahead of time.
"Malia and Sasha generally finish their homework a day ahead of time," Obama said during a press conference--his first major solo conference since March. "Malia's 13, Sasha's 10 … They don't wait until the night before. They're not pulling all nighters. Congress can do the same thing."
You can watch the video below via AP:
The president has been overseeing the negotiation of a compromise between the White House and lawmakers that would pave the way for Congress to agree to increase the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by the current ceiling's Aug. 2 deadline--the time when economists, the president and others say the government will no longer have tools at its disposal to pay its bills.
Obama said he's "very amused" to hear critics in Congress say he needs to show "more leadership" on this issue. Obama noted that he's met with congressional leaders, all the party caucuses and said "at a certain point, they need to do their job."
The president threatened to effectively "ground" Congress this week ahead of the July 4 recess if a deal is not reached.
"We're going to start having to cancel things and stay here until we get it done" Obama said, intimating that recess would be called off.
"They're in [session] one week. They're out one week. And then they're saying 'Obama's got to step in,'" the president said of Congress. "You need to be here. I've been here," he said to some laughter in the East Room. "I've been doing Afghanistan and [Osama] bin Laden and the Greek crisis."
Obama has tasked Vice Presiden Joe Biden with overseeing debt limit talks among one group of key congressional leaders. Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced his decision to pull out of those talksover Democratic demands for an increase in tax revenue which Cantor and other critics say amount simply to tax hikes.
"Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue," Cantor said in a statement.
Republicans say a deal to increase the debt limit must include offsets via spending cuts.
The president on Wednesday claimed that everyone has been willing to take on "their sacred cows" except Republicans--noting that Democrats are willing to examine "painful" spending cuts including to entitlements. Obama cast Republican demands as support for tax breaks for oil and gas companies, corporate jet owners, hedge fund managers and others who he believes don't deserve breaks during a time of national economic crisis.
"If you are a wealthy CEO or a hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they have ever been. They're lower than they've been since the 1950s," Obama said. "And you can afford it. You'll still be able to ride on your corporate jet. You're just going to have to pay a little more."
The president argued that the GOP position of defending tax breaks such as those is "unsustainable" in the face of pressure from the American people to reduce the deficit, repair the economy and boost employment.
Obama and Biden are scheduled to meet with Senate Democrats Wednesday to continue discussions on the debt ceiling. But the parties have yet to say just when that scheduled meeting is supposed to occur in the wake of Cantor's walk-out.