Obama's Walkout, Cantor's Deal

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 13 2011 8:13 PM

Obama's Walkout, Cantor's Deal

In his June 21 pen and pad with reporters, Eric Cantor very clearly rejected the idea of a stopgap debt deal.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Q: Would you be open to a short-term increase?

Cantor: I don't see how multiple votes on a debt ceiling increase can help get us to where we want to go, we want big reforms, we want big spending cuts, and big changes to how this town works. And to me, it is a case of having to make some tough decisions. I am not so sure that if we can't make the tough decisions now, why we would be making those tough decisions later. Frankly, I put the onus on the President. I have talked about the productive talks I have had with the Vice President. But the President has not seemed willing to engage and say that he is willing to do the tough stuff with us. Again, if you look at what is going on in those meetings, which I am sure you would like, there is some real tough stuff in there. Big numbers, big changes to popular programs, but frankly, the right medicine we need to try will begin to bend the curve back towards not having to spend money we don't have. So I don't see how multiple votes are going to help us towards that end. And I have said all along, as you know, that it is my preference that we do this thing one time, again, based on the notion that we have to make some tough decisions. Putting off tough decisions is not what people want in this town.
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According to a GOP source, the leader was willing to walk back from that today. Instead of a grand bargain, there appear to be $1.5 trillion of cuts acceptable to all parties. They're just not acceptable to Democrats without some revenue increases. Cantor suggested that he could move off his "no short-term" deal position in order to get this done and avoid default. And a $1.5 trillion raise would last quite a while -- just not through the 2012 election.

At this point, according to the souce, Obama said this.

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.

And we'll be back tomorrow.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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