White House says Obama has 'concerns' about latest GOP offer
By Justin Sink - 10/11/13 04:36 PM ET
President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) spoke on the phone Friday but failed to reach a deal to end the government shutdown and raise the nation's debt ceiling.
The two sides said talks would continue, but it was clear the White House had not agreed to the latest offer from House Republicans.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama had "some concerns" about the GOP's latest proposal and signaled Obama would not support a plan that tied only a short-term increase of the debt ceiling to a broader budget negotiations.
Doing so, Carney said, would "put us right back where we are now," creating another potential standoff, this time just before the winter holidays.
He said that while Obama would be still willing to sign a "clean" debt-limit increase independent of other negotiations, Democrats wouldn't sign off on a plan that set up a similar "dynamic" in a month and a half.
The new Republican offer set up a vote to extend the debt ceiling by six weeks and start negotiations to end the government shutdown, now in its 11th day. It also set up a second set of talks on longer-term budget issues.
Details about the offer were not unveiled by either side, a sign that the talks are serious and that both sides think a deal could be in sight.
“The president and the Speaker spoke by telephone a few minutes ago,” and aide to Boehner said in a statement. “They agreed that we should all keep talking.”
Rhetoric has also softened, at least between the White House and Republican leaders in the House.
"It is a marked difference from where we had been ... the talks have been constructive," Carney said at his briefing, which began after the financial markets closed and after Obama and Boehner spoke.
He also said that it appeared some Republicans agreed “we need to remove default as a weapon in budget negotiations.”
Democrats and the White House have increased their leverage in the fight, with House and Senate Republicans disagreeing over strategy and producing rival plans to end the standoff.
Polls show Republicans are taking a beating from the shutdown, with Gallup recording its lowest approval rating ever for the party this week.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found more people blame Republicans for the shutdown than the White House, and a greater gap in those figures than the 1990s fights involving President Clinton and the House, led by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).
They also found Obama’s approval rating ticking up a bit.
Those figures make it much easier for Obama to make demands and make it tougher for Republicans to hold out.
Senate and House Republicans have publicly acknowledged the numbers are troubling.
“We read the newspapers,” Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said Friday.
“I don’t know in what world we are faring well under the shutdown, either in terms of policy or politics,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said after a meeting between Obama and Senate Republicans at the White House.