POLITICS

Debt ceiling fight sees House GOP press Obama on borrowing

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In fact, Vice President Joe Biden is leading talks on attaching spending cuts to the debt measure in advance of an Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department.

(Photo: Associated Press)

Wednesday's meeting seemed more of a listening session than earnest negotiations between Obama and the staunch conservatives who have taken back the House.

In Tuesday's vote, House Democrats accused the GOP of political demagoguery, while the Obama administration maneuvered to avoid taking sides — or giving offense to majority Republicans.

The House floor debate was brief, occasionally impassioned and set a standard of sorts for public theater, particularly at a time when private negotiations continue among the administration and key lawmakers on the deficit cuts Republicans have demanded.

Roughly two months remain before the date Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said the debt limit must be raised. If no action is taken by Aug. 2, he has warned, the government could default on its obligations and risk turmoil that might plunge the nation into another recession or even an economic depression.

The government already has reached the limit of its borrowing authority, $14.3 trillion, and the Treasury is using a series of extraordinary maneuvers to meet financial obligations.

By no longer making investments in two big pension funds for federal workers and beginning to withdraw current investments, for example, the Treasury created $214 billion in additional borrowing headroom.

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