Wednesday Debt Talks End On Tense Note As Obama Walks Out “Abruptly”

This doesn’t sound like a good sign:

President Barack Obama abruptly ended a tense budget meeting on Wednesday with Republican leaders by walking out of the room, a Republican aide familiar with the talks said.

The aide said the session, the fourth in a row, was the most tense of the week as House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, dismissed spending cuts offered by the White House as “gimmicks and accounting tricks.”

Further details from Politico’s Jonathan Allen:

President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of a debt-limit meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday, throwing into serious doubt the already shaky debt limit negotiations, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and a second GOP source.

Cantor said the president became “agitated” and warned the Virginia Republican not to “call my bluff” when Cantor said he would consider a short-term debt-limit hike. The meeting “ended with the president abruptly walking out of the meeting,” Cantor told reporters in the Capitol. “I know why he lost his temper. He’s frustrated. We’re all frustrated.”

Asked if they’d made progress in the lasted of negotiations, House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer said “No.”

CNN is reporting that Cantor and Obama’s disagreement stemmed from Cantor taking the position that they would need to do more than one debt limit increase vote between now and 2013, thus kind of adopting the McConnell plan from yesterday apparently. Obama said at one point “Don’t call my bluff……..I’m going to take this to the American people.”

This is like a bunch of schoolkids on the playground trying to prove whose tougher. Sigh.

Update: Further details from The Hill, with a slightly different account from Democratic attendees at the meeting:

Democrats immediately disputed the GOP account, saying Obama had sought to end a meeting when Cantor interrupted him to get a final word. “No. Absolutely not,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told The Hill when asked about Cantor’s description.(…)

Cantor said Obama became “agitated” when the House majority leader said Republicans were now open to holding two votes to increase the debt ceiling between now and the 2012 elections, which the president has rejected.

Obama said he wanted congressional leaders to decide by Friday what approach to take on the debt limit. The Treasury Department has set an Aug. 2 deadline for lifting the $14.3 trillion ceiling, and ratings agencies are warning that they will downgrade U.S. credit if Congress doesn’t act, an action that could send markets tumbling.

“We are very far apart right now,” Cantor said he told the president. “I don’t know if we can get there.”

Cantor said he asked Obama if would consider allowing two votes on the debt ceiling to give leaders more time to negotiate additional budget savings while avoiding a calamitous default.

“That’s when he got very agitated, seemingly, and said that he had sat there long enough, and that no other president – Ronald Reagan wouldn’t sit here like this – and that he’s reached the point where something’s got to give,” Cantor said, describing the president’s reaction.

“He said to me, ‘Eric, don’t call my bluff. I’m going to the American people with this,'” Cantor said. “I was somewhat taken aback,” he added with a smile.

Where this goes form here is anyone’s guess. My first thought is that Eric Cantor may be in over his head.

Update 2: Dave Weigel passes along this quote from an unnamed source, attributed to Obama during his conversation with Cantor:

I have reached the point where I say enough. Would Ronald Reagan be sitting here? I’ve reached my limit. This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this.

This is crunch time. Either a deal gets made, or things fall apart and both sides retreat to their respective corners for a couple days.

 

 

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Congress, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    This is like a bunch of schoolkids on the playground trying to prove whose tougher. Sigh.

    No, it’s a hostage negotiation. The Republicans have a gun to all of our heads, and they enjoy it so much they want to do it several more times over the next year, provided they don’t pull the trigger this time.

  2. KipEsquire says:

    “Don’t call my bluff……..I’m going to take this to the American people.”

    Anyone remember, “I’m the only thing between you and the pitchforks…”?

  3. Chad S says:

    As 538 pointed out on twitter today: only 26% of GOP voters agree with Cantor and Boehner’s “spending cuts only” demands.

  4. “I’m going to take this to the American people.”

    You do that, Mr. President. You do that with these poll numbers.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/148454/Debt-Ceiling-Increase-Remains-Unpopular-Americans.aspx

  5. An Interested Party says:

    This is like a bunch of schoolkids on the playground trying to prove whose tougher.

    I guess the president would be far more of a statesman by simply giving in to all of the GOP demands?

    You do that, Mr. President. You do that with these poll numbers.

    I would think that the effects of the debt ceiling not being raised would be far more unpopular than the seeming current view that it should not be raised…

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KipEsquire:

    Anyone remember, “I’m the only thing between you and the pitchforks…”?

    Well I aint sure about JJ , but Marie Antoinette will never again say “Let them eat cake.” (if she ever actually did say it… don’t matter, her head rolled in a basket0

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    John Boehner, the emasculated personna of the Republican party… Eric Cantor, the unhinged loose cannon….

    You guys go with this, go ahead…

  8. ratufa says:

    thus kind of adopting the McConnell plan from yesterday apparently.

    No, it’s more like Norquist’s suggested strategy. Norquist isn’t opposed to raising the ceiling in return for spending cuts as long as it’s for a short period, so you can repeat the process.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    See guys, this is how it works. Doug makes a post equating Democratic behavior with Republican insanity. We all carefully point out how ridiculous this comparison is. Doug ignores us. This leads to frustration on our part, which in turn leads to more posts and views and Doug’s thread tops the charts in popularity once more. The advertisers are happy. I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that Doug’s posts are essentially trolls for hits.

  10. @Jeremy Kolassa:

    I doubt that’s what Obama’s talking about. He’s talking about the tax issue where the public seems to disagree with the GOP’s position, especially when it comes to taxes on “the rich”

    The debt ceiling will be raised, it has to be. The only question is the circumstances under which it will happen

  11. Hey Norm says:

    @ Doug….
    Maybe…but the tea stain caucus, steve king, Bachmann, roebmert, all say no. They say the debt limit doesn’t need to be raised and everything will be ok-fine.
    Frankly I don’t blame Obama for being p’oed…negotiating with these numbskulls.

  12. Michael says:

    @MarkedMan:

    See guys, this is how it works. Doug makes a post equating Democratic behavior with Republican insanity. We all carefully point out how ridiculous this comparison is. Doug ignores us. This leads to frustration on our part, which in turn leads to more posts and views and Doug’s thread tops the charts in popularity once more. The advertisers are happy. I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that Doug’s posts are essentially trolls for hits.

    But on the plus side, at least it’s not about Palin again.

  13. Franklin says:

    My impression is that Obama’s got the strong hand here. I would go ahead and hit the debt ceiling. When the market takes a tumble, people will know who to blame. 2012 won’t be pretty for the Repubs, again showing that they can’t govern in power.

  14. Hey Norm says:

    @ Franklin…
    The contrarian in me likes that idea…the adult thinks there is too much at stake.

    Very different characterization of the moment:
    One Democrat familiar with what transpired took issue with Cantor’s account, blaming him for obstinately continuing to press for a short-term extension after Obama has already rejected the idea, describing the scene as Cantor’s back-of-the-plane moment, a reference to the incident when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) bitterly complained about sitting in the back of Air Force One and later shutdown the government

    Unfortunately we’ll never know the complete truth. It is fun to watch the so-called republicans play with an empty hand.

  15. @MarkedMan:

    What in the name of god are you even talking about?

  16. MarkedMan says:

    What am I talking about? Your implication or outright statement in all of your debt ceiling posts that the Republicans and Democrats are somehow equivalently to blame on this issue. In reality, the Republicans refuse to negotiate, the Democrats are willing. When the commenters call you out on it you either ignore them or, if you do reply, challenge them on some nitpicking detail of what they said rather than address the core point.

    Since you are not a stupid person, I have to wonder if you are doing it on purpose just to generate comments.

  17. JohnMcC says:

    I think I am correct that when you are at a meeting at the White House with the President of the United States and he makes a final statement and walks out of the room, that is what you call “adjournment”. Unless you are some highly privileged asshole who can talk into a mic and say “he walked out on me boo hoo hoo.”

  18. MM says:

    @MarkedMan:

    If it makes you feel better it’s not just the debt ceiling posts. If a GOP operative robbed a Democrat at gunpoint and the Democrat file a police report, Doug would be sure to tell us that while armed robbery is bad, complaining about it is nearly equally as bad and that realistically neither side is acquitting themselves well.

  19. michael reynolds says:

    Marked Man:

    Here’s my theory: Doug is a libertarian and apparently thinks if he can call a pox on both houses he’ll somehow help the LP — a little band of silly men, usually with unfortunate facial hair, who never matured sufficiently to realize Ayn Rand was a ridiculous crank.

    Absolutely no one buys his treatment of these issues, and the LP is more laughable with every passing year, but he keeps trying. Doug is to Ayn Rand as Jay Tea is to Sarah Palin.

  20. BJH says:

    Your takeaway is that Cantor is in over his head, and not Obama? Truly LOL.

  21. Cantor knows how to walk out of a meeting. Thank you, thank you, Eric Cantor, for your insights. Cantor was pretty successful in the framing here. The stenographers at Politico wrote down abruptly, which DM put in quotes.

  22. Muffler says:

    This is all Republican and right wing bunk. They are just trying to find “equalization points” from the press they caused by Cantor storming out of the last meeting. The damage was so bad that they needed to come up with something similar to “demonstrate” that Obama is as childish. The truth is they have no new ideas and don’t ever expect to do the right thing and balance the revenues and cuts for the good of the nation. So they pull press stunts to deflect from the point that they only represent the rich and corporations.

  23. Muffler says:

    @BJH: This seems to be the general “go to point” by many on the right. After the Somali pirates, Bin Laden, stalling the recession and dealing as an adult with incompetent, bought, and immature GOP leaders while having been President for 2 years these “go to points” are tiresome at best.

  24. BJH says:

    @muffler,
    Somali pirates? really? That’s one of your BO highlights? And can you name 1 president (or for that matter, any nominee for president) who wouldn’t have made the “gutsy” call to take down Osama? As for BO “dealing as an adult”, there is no evidence I’ve seen that warrants that description. Given the cover that the press has provided since he came onto the scene, I can’t think of a more thin-skinned, reactionary, petulant president than Obama in my 40 years. Your mileage clearly varies.

  25. WR says:

    @BJH: Yeah, I can name one president would wouldn’t have made the “gutsy” call to take down Osama. His name is George W. Bush, and not we’ve got the proof he wouldn’t have done it — because he didn’t. Instead he pulled the special forces out so he could invade Iraq.

  26. JohnMcC says:

    Ahhh, Mr BJH, I was paying attention back in those distant days when the Repubs were responsible for protecting us from America’s enemies. I even remember the press conference where a reporter asked young Mr Bush “why haven’t we found Osama bin Laden?” His reply showed his perception of his sacred mission; “Because he’s hiding!”

    Fortunately we are now completely safe from Saddam Hussein’s WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    The “gutsy” part of the call was to send in Navy Seals so we could be certain we go him, rather than bombing the compound and letting the Taliban do a “Weekend at Bernie’s” indefinitely. It WAS a gutsy call, and if it had gone wrong would have all but guaranteed bad results for the US, and (IMO) absolutely guaranteed Obama’s defeat next year.

  28. Jim Treacher says:

    @mantis:

    The Republicans have a gun to all of our heads

    Remember when violent rhetoric was bad?

  29. BJH says:

    @WR, using your “reasoning” isn’t the ultimate blame for 9/11 and not getting Obama on Clinton, as he too did not get him when he had the chance?

    @MarkedMan, if the economy stays at its present state or gets worse through 2012, I think that if BO killed OBL himself, on TV, with Oprah announcing, at the halftime of the Super Bowl, it wouldn’t matter, he’s toast anyway, whether the “gutsy” raid went well or not.

    If you want to make it seem that BO is a hard-ass for following W’s practices, be my guest. Hanging your re-election hat on the successful (I’ll even cede HUGELY successful) mission to get OBL, in the face of all of BO’s other missteps and/or disastrous policies, I will gladly make that trade. You can even have the Somali pirate hating constituency and the Obama-as-make-believe-adult crowd too.

  30. mantis says:

    Remember when violent rhetoric was bad?

    Cry me a river. You’re the one on the terrorists’ side.

  31. Jim Treacher says:

    @mantis:

    Cry me a river. You’re the one on the terrorists’ side.

    Try to relax, hon.

  32. An Interested Party says:

    @WR, using your “reasoning” isn’t the ultimate blame for 9/11 and not getting Obama on Clinton, as he too did not get him when he had the chance?

    And yet, regarding bin Laden, it was Bush who said, “I truly am not that concerned about him.”

    @MarkedMan, if the economy stays at its present state or gets worse through 2012, I think that if BO killed OBL himself, on TV, with Oprah announcing, at the halftime of the Super Bowl, it wouldn’t matter, he’s toast anyway, whether the “gutsy” raid went well or not.

    Nice moving of the goal posts…the original point had nothing to do with next year’s election…

    Hanging your re-election hat on the successful (I’ll even cede HUGELY successful) mission to get OBL, in the face of all of BO’s other missteps and/or disastrous policies, I will gladly make that trade.

    Just because you think the President has made so very many “missteps and/or disastrous policies” doesn’t make that the reality…regardless, the election won’t just be about the President, but also about who will be running against him…depending on who that is, he could easily do what Bush did in 2004…