Obama calls lawmakers to White House for debt-limit talks

Washington Bureau

President Obama called congressional leaders to the White House on Thursday for another round negotiations on the debt limit, saying an agreement was within reach to avoid a potentially catastrophic default.

In a brief statement to reporters at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, the president also hinted that he was reluctant to accept a short-term deal that would extend the nation’s borrowing capacity for a matter of months in return for spending cuts, but put off thornier discussions over tax reform and entitlements.

“I don’t think the American people sent us here to avoid tough problems. That’s, in fact, what drives them nuts about Washington,” he said. “I believe that right now we’ve got a unique opportunity to do something big, to tackle our deficit in a way that forces our government to live within its means, that puts our economy on a stronger footing for the future and still allows us to invest in that future.”


Earlier Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell again invited Obama to meet with Republicans on Capitol Hill this week, an invitation Obama had already turned down. The proposed White House meeting also means Obama would not attend Senate Democrats’ weekly luncheon, as had been discussed.

As he did last week, the president said lawmakers should not procrastinate as the government faces an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the $14.3-trillion debt limit; the Senate called off a planned recess this week in part to keep talks going.

He also repeated his call for a “balanced approach” that would combine serious spending reductions with new revenues by closing some tax loopholes and ending tax breaks for the wealthy.

“I think it’s important for us to show the American people and their leaders that we can find common ground and solve our problems in a responsible way,” he said. “We know that it’s going to require tough decisions. I think it’s better for us to take those tough decisions sooner rather than later.”