Debt Talks Stall on Sunday

Negotiations flail as deadline nears

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Zero hour is fast approaching on the debt limit crisis and a solution is no closer in sight. The president is "determined" to continue forward working on a $4 trillion deal, despite facing, "steadfast opposition from Republicans and growing qualms among Democrats," reports The New York Times. Obama met with top officials from both parties on Sunday for an hour and fifteen minutes to discuss cutting a new deal. Little progress was made at the meeting, but the group agreed to meet again Monday, and then every day after until a deal is finally finished. Chances for the $4 trillion deal took a harsh blow Saturday night when House Speaker John Boehner announced he was backing off on his original commitment to that deal, and instead throwing his weight behind a smaller $2 or $3 trillion deal.

The lines in the sand have been drawn and little leeway is being given to those who want to negotiate or cross them. The Democrats are worried about spending cuts and the Republicans are refusing to acknowledge any deal that consists of any perceived tax hikes. A spokesman for Mitch McConnell said, "it’s baffling that the president and his party continue to insist on massive tax hikes in the middle of a jobs crisis." House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said that she was a fan of a larger deal but it, "must do no harm to the middle class or to economic growth. It must also protect Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries." The Wall Street Journal reports that, "negotiators on each side also suggested the other side was being over-cautious."

The Times says that some of the rank-and-file members of Congress actually wanted the larger deal that everyone was worried would be such a hard sell:

Privately, some in Congress expressed regret at Mr. Boehner’s decision on Saturday to walk away from an agreement that they said would have been a rare opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to radically restructure the government’s finances, rewrite the tax code and fix longstanding problems with Medicare and Medicaid.

According to The Journal, Boehner's decision to drop out of the larger deal "was driven in part by the intensifying public and private discussion of the deal on Friday, after which he concluded he couldn't sell the tax proposal to his GOP caucus." With limited time available for debate, the chances for the $4 trillion deal are all but shot. Fear alone will lead lawmakers away from another opportunity lost.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.