WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans spent Friday seeking an agreement to reopen the government and raise the nation's debt limit, but the White House balked at the idea of a short-term deal that could lead to another crisis around Thanksgiving.
“We're obviously in a better place than we were a few days ago ... but there's not an agreement,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Carney said the president hasn't changed his position that he won't negotiate over budget issues if Republicans are using default on the nation's debt as a “weapon.” If the government is reopened and the debt limit lifted, the president would engage in broad budget talks, Carney said.
The president spoke by telephone to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Friday afternoon and the two men agreed to keep talking, spokesmen for both said.
House Republicans on Thursday offered the president a six-week increase in the nation's borrowing authority so budget talks could begin but Obama didn't accept it. Carney said Friday that a six-week increase tied to budget negotiations “would put us right back where we are today” at Thanksgiving and the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
That kind of uncertainty would damage businesses at a critical time, he said.
“What we are looking for is a way for Congress to reopen the government and remove the threat of default from this whole process,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also criticized the idea of a short-term increase in the debt limit.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said that the government will not have enough money on hand Thursday to meet its obligations. The administration and some lawmakers have warned that breaching the debt limit would lead to economic calamity.