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Thursday, June 23, 2011

What Part Of 'Tax Hikes Are Off The Table' Do Democrats Not Understand?

The last two Republicans involved in the deficit negotiations before a debt limit deal can be reached, have just pulled out of the talks, leaving no GOP involved.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor walked first and he was followed by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl.

Still, Mr. Cantor remained optimistic about the prospects for a deal. He said the Biden group had already made significant progress and had tentatively identified more than $2 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. But he said there could be no agreement on an overall package without breaking the impasse between Republicans' refusal to accept any tax increase, and Democrats insistence that some tax hikes be part of the deal.

While it is widely agreed that there has been major progress from the talks, Democrats at the negotiating table are unable to comprehend the very clear statements made by the Speaker of House,John Boehner, when he said "We have been clear. Tax hikes are off the table. A tax hike cannot pass the U.S. House of Representatives... these conversations could continue if they take the tax hikes out of the conversation."

There can be no deal if it cannot pass the House of Representatives and the GOP controlled House has already been as clear as can be that there will be no tax hikes associated with a deal on raising the debt limit.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is asking a question I have been seeing more and more lately.

Where is Barack Obama?

"Where in the world has President Obama been for the past month?" McConnell said, "What does he propose? What is he willing to do to reduce the debt and avoid the crisis that is building on his watch."

On the same day that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor dropped out of the Biden-led debt talks and as the group was set to meet for the eleventh time this afternoon, McConnell said that most Americans want President Obama to start acting like he’s in charge.

"It's not enough for the President to step in front of a microphone every once in a while and say a few words that someone hands him to say about jobs and the economy. Americans want to see that he's actually doing something about it."

McConnell said that thus far President Obama has “stood in the background” and not acted as if this is problem.

“He’s the President. He needs to lead. He needs to show that he recognizes the problem. And do something about it,” McConnell said noting that the Republican Party is not in the majority, “This is his problem to solve.”

Boehner thinks it is time for him and Obama to have a little discussion to overcome the impasse before the drop dead date of August 2, 2011 when the U.S. will default on its debt without a vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Mr. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said he understood Mr. Cantor's frustrations, and that he stood willing to engage in talks with the president. "I would expect to hear from him," Mr. Boehner said.

Boehner will have to wait because Obama is hiding behind closed doors with Democrats rather than risking having his own fingerprint on the deal.

[Update] More from The Hill on a joint statement from Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.):

“The White House and Democrats are insisting on job-killing tax hikes and new spending. That proposal won’t address our fiscal crisis, our jobs crisis, or protect and reform entitlements. And a bill with new spending and higher taxes would fail with bipartisan opposition — as it should," the two said in the statement. "President Obama needs to decide between his goal of higher taxes, or a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. He can’t have both. But we need to hear from him.”