White House: Obama Won't Veto GOP Short-Term Debt Limit Plan

By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)

(CBS News) The White House said Tuesday that President Obama would not veto a House Republican plan to suspend the debt limit for three months, even though the president thinks a temporary solution is far from ideal.

"The Administration would not oppose a short-term solution to the debt limit and looks forward to continuing to work with both the House and the Senate to increase certainty and stability for the economy," the White House said in an official statement of policy released today.

The House plans to vote Wednesday on a bill to suspend the nation's $16.4 trillion debt limit until mid-May, giving Congress more time to negotiate over the limit. The bill would also require the House and Senate to pass a budget. If either chamber failed to pass a budget, according to this proposal, their congressional salaries would be withheld.

"All we're saying is, if the president and the Senate, if this country needs to incur more debt, Senate, please show us your plan to repay that debt, please show us your plan to control spending," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said this evening.

The House bill, the White House statement of policy warned, "introduces unnecessary complications, needlessly perpetuating uncertainty in the Nation's fiscal system." However, it said that the administration is encouraged the bill "lifts the immediate threat of default and indicates that congressional Republicans have backed off an insistence on holding the Nation's economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education, and other programs that middle-class families depend on."

Should Congress fail to raise the debt limit, the nation could potentially default on its loans, which economists say would have a severe economic impact. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has informed Congress that the Treasury is expected to exhaust its borrowing authority by mid-February or early March.

Republicans are intent on reducing spending in exchange for raising the nation's borrowing authority. President Obama and Democrats, however, say there should be no conditions attached to the debt limit, since it covers debt already racked up in Washington -- not future spending.

"We can continue to engage -- and we will -- with members of Congress, over the need to further reduce our deficit in a balanced way," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday. "The president has put forward plans, as you know, that demonstrate the fact that he is willing to compromise, that he is willing to meet Republicans halfway on these issues, and he will continue to do that. But the debt ceiling needs to not be a part of that, because it's terrible for the economy, and it seems also to be bad politics."

Republicans, however, say that tax revenue increases are off the table now. That part of the discussion ended, they say, when Washington let the Bush-era tax rates expire for the top 1 percent. Now, the GOP says it's only willing to discuss spending cuts as a means of deficit reduction.

"The tax issue is over," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, told reporters. "I would venture to say there is not a single Republican vote in the House or Senate to provide more revenue, and the reason for that is we all know revenue is not the problem... This not a revenue problem, this is a spending problem."

At a closed-door meeting with House GOP conference members, a source in the room tells CBS News, House Speaker John Boehner told members that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan will be working with the conference to draft a budget by April 15. With the right reforms in place, Paul's goal is to advance a budget that balances within a decade, Boehner said.

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