In a rare Sunday night statement from the White House press briefing room, President Obama announced that he and congressional leaders have reached an agreement to avoid default and reduce the deficit. The challenge ahead: selling it to rank-and-file Democratic and Republican members to pass the deal.
"This process has been messy. It has taken far too long," Obama said. "Nevertheless, ultimately, the leaders of both parties have found their ways toward compromise."
Obama described the details of the deal:
-- a one-time debt-ceiling increase that would last through 2012;
-- about $1 trillion in up-front spending cuts that wouldn't take place "abruptly";
-- and a bipartisan committee that must report to Congress by November that would further reduce the deficit by looking at taxes/revenues and entitlement spending
"Is this the deal I would have preferred?" the president asked. "No," he answered, adding that he would have preferred tax and entitlement reform to occur now.
In a conference call with his House Republican caucus, Speaker John Boehner went out of his way to stress that there isn't an agreement -- but rather a framework. "There’s no agreement until we’ve talked to you," he said, according to excerpts his office released. "There is a framework in place that would cut spending by a larger amount than we raise the debt limit, and cap future spending to limit the growth of government. It would do so without any job-killing tax hikes. And it would also guarantee the American people the vote they have been denied in both chambers on a balanced budget amendment, while creating, I think, some new incentives for past opponents of a BBA to support it."
"I realize that’s not ideal, and I apologize for it," he added. "But after I go through it, you’ll realize it’s pretty much the framework we’ve been operating in."
(Here is a Power Point presentation Boehner sent to his GOP House members before the conference call.)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Boehner's words. "I think I can say with a high degree of confidence that there is now a framework to review that will ensure significant cuts in Washington spending. And we can assure the American people tonight that the United States of America will not for the first time in our history default on its obligations."
*** UPDATE *** And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this on the Senate floor: "I am relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach a historic, bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff... To pass this settlement, we’ll need the support of Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate. There is no way either party – in either chamber – can do this alone."