Republicans said tense negotiations over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit at the White House ended when President Obama stormed out of the meeting with a stern warning to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.): “Don’t call my bluff.”
“It ended with the president abruptly walking out of the meeting,” Cantor told reporters upon returning to the Capitol Wednesday.
Democrats immediately disputed the GOP account, saying Obama had sought to end a meeting when Cantor interrupted him to get a final word. “No. Absolutely not,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told The Hill in a brief interview when asked about Cantor’s description.
A Democratic source familiar with the negotiations said the reports of a dramatic or abrupt walk-out by Obama were overblown, but the source acknowledged that the president “said what he was going to say, he got up and walked out.”
“The climax of the meeting was the president basically saying ‘what’s happening in this room confirms what everybody across the country thinks about Washington, D.C.,’” the official said. “Which is that people are more interested in protecting their base and political positioning than solving problems.”
The differing accounts came after the fourth day of White House debt talks in a row.
Cantor said Obama became “agitated” when the House majority leader said Republicans were now open to holding two votes to increase the debt ceiling between now and the 2012 elections, which the president has rejected.
Obama said he wanted congressional leaders to decide by Friday what approach to take on the debt limit. The Treasury Department has set an Aug. 2 deadline for lifting the ceiling, and ratings agencies are warning that they will downgrade U.S. credit if Congress doesn’t act — an action that could send markets tumbling.
“We are very far apart right now,” Cantor said he told the president. “I don’t know if we can get there.”
Conflicting accounts of the meeting or not, Mr. President you ain’t Jaime Gold and you are not supposed to let on that you are bluffing.
Some poker player…..