The overall package being discussed would not halt $109 billion in federal government spending cuts set to start after Jan. 1, or extend a 2 percentage point cut in the payroll tax, set to expire with the Bush tax cuts. It also would not increase the government’s debt limit.
Any agreement would still face significant hurdles with conservatives in the Senate and House ands approval Monday was far from certain.
“President Obama and Majority Leader Reid continue to insist on new taxes that will be used to fund more new spending, not for meaningful deficit reduction,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. “The result is nearly $9 trillion in new debt accumulation over the next decade, which represents virtually no change from current projections.”
Reid and McConnell hit an impasse Sunday after Republicans pressed anew for a way to control spending with a new method for calculating benefit increases for programs such as Social Security and Medicare, Democratic sources familiar with the negotiations said. The change would save $200 billion over 10 years.
At mid-day, McConnell said he was still waiting for a response from Reid and the Democrats to his Saturday night proposal.
“I’m concerned about the lack of urgency here,” McConnell said Sunday afternoon. “There’s far too much at stake for political gamesmanship...I’m willing to get this done but I need a dance partner.”
Reid said that Democrats were trying to come up with a counteroffer, but were unable to do so even after several conversations with Obama.
“At this stage we’re not able to make a counteroffer,” he said. “In the meantime, I will continue to try to come up with something, but at this stage I don’t have a counteroffer to make,”’ Reid said. “Perhaps as the day wears on, I will be able to. I will say this, I think that the Republican leader has shown some absolutely good faith. It’s just that we are apart on some pretty big issues.”
Obama took to the airwaves in a rare Sunday morning TV appearance to lambast Republicans for letting the crisis reach the final days.
“We have been talking to the Republicans ever since the election was over. They have had trouble saying yes to a number of repeated offers,” Obama said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “What’s been holding us back is the dysfunction here in Washington.”
Republicans criticized Obama for his partisan remarks as the two parties were still trying to work out a deal.
“Americans elected President Obama to lead, not cast blame,” Boehner said in a statement. “The president’s comments today are ironic, as a recurring theme of our negotiations was his unwillingness to agree to anything that would require him to stand up to his own party.”
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart called the comments “ discordant” and noted that as Obama made them, McConnell “was in the office working to bring Republicans and Democrats together on a solution.”
David Lightman and Lesley Clark contributed to this report.