Disputed accounts of the longest debt-limit meeting yet
In a fit of anger, President Obama abruptly concluded Wednesday's debt-ceiling meeting at the White House with congressional leaders -- says House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) -- a description that Democrats cast as "overblown."
"He said to me, 'Eric, don't call my bluff.' He said, 'I'm going to the American people with this,' " Cantor said.
"He shoved back and said 'I'll see you tomorrow,' and walked out," Cantor told reporters at the Capitol, giving a remarkably in-depth description of a closed-door meeting.
House Speaker John Boehner's office had no immediate comment, but a senior Democratic aide later said it was Cantor who "rudely interrupted the president three times to advocate for short-term debt-ceiling increases while the president was wrapping the meeting."
Another Democrat familiar with the talks said Obama simply decided that the day's session -- the longest one yet -- had gone on long enough. The source also disputed the notion that the session was unusually tense.
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The session opened with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner noting the announcement by credit-ratings agency Moody's that it would review the United States' Aaa status and contending that it underscored the urgency for an agreement that could permit the debt-ceiling hike. That led to a long discussion of discretionary and mandatory cuts with Obama repeatedly returning to his belief that a big deal would be preferable to a small one. When Cantor again proposed that a temporary extension of only a few months should be adopted, that idea was firmly rejected by the president, as he had done at his press conference on Monday.