"The American people simply won't stand for it. And their elected representatives in Congress won't vote for it," Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement shortly after Obama invited Democratic and Republican congressional leaders to meet with him at the White House Thursday.
"I'm happy to discuss these [deficit-reduction] issues at the White House, but such discussions will be fruitless until the president recognizes economic and legislative reality," Boehner's statement said.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Wednesday Republicans were willing to discuss tax loopholes with the president, but tax increases were still a no-go.
"If the president wants to talk loopholes, we'll be glad to talk loopholes," , The Washington Post quoted Cantor as saying at his weekly roundtable with journalists. "We've said all along that preferences in the code aren't something that helps economic growth overall. But listen, we're not for any proposal that increases taxes, and any type of discussion should be coupled with offsetting tax cuts somewhere else."
Obama insisted Tuesday a final deficit-reduction deal should reflect a "balanced approach" that includes tax increases on oil and gas companies and rich people as well as trillions in spending cuts.
But he urged all sides to "leave their ultimatums at the door."
"This will require both parties to get out of our comfort zones," the Democratic president said. "I'm ready to do that. I believe there are enough people in both parties who are ready to do that."
Obama said "progress" had been made in discussions over the July Fourth weekend, and he set a two-week deadline to reach a deal.
The deadline allows time for the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to analyze the deal and for both chambers to vote on it before Aug. 2, when the U.S. Treasury Department has said the government will begin defaulting on its obligations without Congress increasing the country's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit.
Republicans have demanded trillions of dollars in spending cuts, with no tax increases, in exchange for their votes. Democrats have agreed to large spending cuts but say tax increases must be included in any deal.
"When Republicans talk about shared sacrifice, they mean that the sacrifice should be shared by those that can least afford it," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Democratic senators planned to have a vote this week on a non-binding resolution calling on people making more than $1 million a year to "make a meaningful contribution" to pay a share of reducing the deficit.
Their goal is to force Republicans to go on the record as protecting tax breaks for the wealthy, The Washington Post said.
Lawmakers invited to the White House summit include Reid, Boehner, Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
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