Negotiations wouldn't even be necessary except that the House of Representatives, under Republican control, refuses to raise the debt limit unless serious progress is made to reduce long-term deficits. Never mind that a large portion of the national debt arose from Republican legislation passed during the Bush years (two wars, two major tax cuts, Medicare part D), with Cantor and Kyl voting "yea" on each, adding $4.6 trillion of unfunded debt.
Democrats are committed to reducing the deficit via a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, but Republicans refuse to consider revenue as an important part of that equation. Former Reagan official Bruce Bartlett lays out a pretty good case that the current Republican position is just plain ignorant.
Meanwhile, Kyle and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have released a statement that reads in part:
“President Obama needs to decide between his goal of higher taxes, or a bipartisan plan to address our deficit,” Mr. McConnell and Mr. Kyl said in a joint statement. “He can’t have both. But we need to hear from him.”Steve Benens at the Washington Monthly has a good response to their intransigence here.
Apparently Republican legislators don't know what the word "bipartisan" means, nor do they appear to be interested in 1) reducing the Federal deficit, or 2) preventing the U.S. from defaulting on its obligations. Instead, they've walked out. Quit. Vamoose.
Why? Take a good look at Grover Norquist's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." Read it closely then look at the list of those who are committed to uphold it. Toward the bottom, you'll notice that only 13 Republican legislators (out of 290) have--so far--refused to sign.
So I ask you, who made Grover Norquist president?
[Update: Apparently Mitt Romney just signed on too. Imagine that!]
[Additional update: Bruce Bartlett weighs in again with an excellent FACT-BASED article: Will Higher Taxes Tank the Economy? ]