Negotiations will continue today between the White House and congressional leaders, but as NPR's Scott Horsley said on Morning Edition, the path to a deal on raising the federal debt ceiling, cutting federal deficits and eventually shrinking the $14+ trillion federal debt "is far from clear."
The New York Times goes even further: "Hopes Dwindling For Compromise In Budget Talks," its headline reads.
Two pieces of the story are getting the most attention today:
— Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's suggestion that Congress should, as our colleague Frank James writes on It's All Politics, "effectively give President Obama the power to raise the debt ceiling."
Conservative Erick Erickson at RedState calls that the "Pontius Pilate Pass the Buck Act of 2011" because President Obama could then "raise the debt ceiling without making any spending cuts at all,"
But the editorial writers at The Wall Street Journal say McConnell had no other option because President Obama "is trying to present Republicans with a Hobson's choice: Either repudiate their campaign pledge by raising taxes, or take the blame for any economic turmoil and government shutdown as the U.S. nears a debt default" on Aug. 2.
Over at the liberal Talking Points Memo, Brian Beutler thinks this is "the first public blink by the GOP, and a fairly significant abdication of their leverage. But if this is indeed the route by which the debt limit will be raised, Senate Democrats and President Obama will have to support it. And so for they haven't weighed in."
— The president's warning, last night on the CBS Evening News, that if the debt limit isn't increased by Aug. 2, when the government hits its borrowing limit, checks for Social Security recipients, veterans and others who get government payments may not go out "on Aug. 3 ... because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it."
Conservative Jim Geraghty at National Review's The Campaign Spot blog says the president is embracing "scare tactics" with his words.
Adam Sorensen at Time's Swampland blog writes that what Obama is indirectly saying is that the federal government will not immediately "default on its credit obligations" if the debt ceiling isn't raised by Aug. 2. Instead, "the Treasury Department is going to start taking some very unpleasant steps that everyone will regret in order to prevent a default." And those steps could include not sending out some checks.