(Bloomberg News) President Barack Obama is challenging Republican lawmakers to present a plan for a smaller-scale deficit reduction program as he attempts to steer them toward his $4 trillion goal, a Democratic aide said.
Obama plans to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. in Washington today, his fifth public remarks on the debt in a week, as he presses lawmakers to reach an agreement to raise the $14.3 trillion U.S. borrowing ceiling before an Aug. 2 deadline. The president and bipartisan congressional negotiators agreed to meet every day until they reach a deal, said one legislative aide on condition of anonymity.
They are divided over taxes and entitlements. Republicans reject Democrats' call for more tax revenue and instead are pressing to cut entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Democrats insist even the Republicans' proposal for a smaller deficit-cutting plan must include more taxes from higher-income Americans. Obama has said he is willing to cut entitlements in exchange for a Republican agreement to increase taxes.
Democrats want to "enact an agreement that ensures America pays its bills and reduces the deficit in a balanced way without putting all of the burden on seniors and the middle class," Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat, said in a statement after a 75-minute negotiating session yesterday at the White House.
Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, underscored Republicans' opposition to any tax increases.
"It's baffling that the president and his party continue to insist on massive tax hikes in the middle of a jobs crisis while refusing to take significant action on spending reductions at a time of record deficits," Stewart said after the meeting.
Talks are scheduled to resume today at 2 p.m., Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said in an e- mail.
U.S. stock futures declined, indicating that the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 Index will fall for a second day. Futures on the S&P 500 expiring in September fell 1.3 percent to 1,323.7 at 8:35 a.m. in New York. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 122 points, or 1 percent, to 12,493.
Obama and congressional leaders are seeking a deal to pave the way for a vote in Congress to increase the debt limit, a move the Treasury Department says is needed by Aug. 2 to avert a default on the nation's financial obligations.