President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans had a constructive conversation about fiscal policy and other matters on Wednesday (March 6) night, a White House spokesman said, but neither the administration nor the GOP on Thursday predicted a quick agreement about taxes and spending.
According to a report by MarketWatch, Obama “said that there seemed to be sincere interest in avoiding constant crisis, sincere interest expressed by the participants in the dinner,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at a regular briefing.
But he followed up by saying, “We’re not naive about the challenges that we still face. They exist and there are differences.”
Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who was one of a group of Republican senators that dined with Obama at a Washington restaurant on Wednesday night, said Thursday that the meeting was “very cordial” and “substantive.” He also underscored Republicans’ push for deep spending cuts and the party’s opposition to tax increases, which lawmakers will wrestle with beginning next week as each party offers fiscal 2014 budgets.
“Unless we curb the spending and bring spending under control,” Toomey said after a speech at the Heritage Foundation, “we’re not going to have the kind of growth we need.”
Early next week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, is planning to unveil his plan to balance the government’s budget in 10 years. A competing blueprint is expected from Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat.
Given the parties’ fundamental disagreement over tax increases, the documents will set the stage for more wrangling over fiscal policy just as the government approaches a late-March deadline to pass separate stopgap funding. Without passing a short-term bill by March 27, the government would face a partial shutdown. The House has passed a bill to avert the shutdown by funding the government through the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30, and the Senate is preparing to act on that measure.