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Obama changes tune, meets with GOP

The White House said the president and his top advisers listened to a proposal from GOP House leaders on the debt ceiling, and neither rejected nor accepted it, but simply made no decision.

The president’s team decided to talk some more among themselves, and perhaps get back to the GOP later Thursday night.

It’s also possible that aides for each side could keep looking for common ground.

A White House statement called it a “good meeting” that lasted about an hour and a half.

“After a discussion about potential paths forward, no specific determination was made. The president looks forward to making continued progress with members on both sides of the aisle,” the statement concluded.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., called the meeting “very useful” and expected more talks, soon.

Cantor added,”hopefully we can see a way forward after that.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, left the White House without stopping to speak with reporters.

Republican House leaders met with President Obama to offer a temporary solution to the debt-ceiling issue, a solution that might also signal the end to their drive to delay or defund Obamacare.

A well-placed congressional source told WND the deal Boehner offered would extend the debt ceiling until November 22.

The proposal did not address the government shutdown in effect since Oct. 1, but only the looming Oct. 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling.

In return for removing the immediate threat of default on the nation’s debt, Republicans wanted negotiations to end the government shutdown and a longer-term solution to the debt problem.

A source told WND the GOP strategy was based on the belief that time is on their side.

By offering to delay the debt-ceiling deadline, Republican leaders hoped pressure would grow on the president to negotiate, the more time that passes without a deal to end the government shutdown.

The president has insisted for weeks that the GOP give in to his demands to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling without getting anything in return.

Obama even declared, “I will not negotiate.”

“I would hope the president would look at this as an opportunity and a good faith effort on our part to move halfway, halfway to what he’s demanded, in order to have these conversations begin,” said Boehner, adding that it was time for the president to show leadership.

Unconditional surrender?

Earlier in the week, the president signaled willingness to accept a short-term debt ceiling deal with no conditions, but Boehner said that would be an “unconditional surrender.”

Before Boehner’s announcement, a source told WND Republicans would ask the president for concessions in return for raising the debt ceiling for some six weeks.

But there were strong indications the GOP would not ask for concessions on Obamacare, and that Republicans might drop attempts to derail the health care law, at least for time being.

GOP House leaders signaled they preferred instead to negotiate spending cuts, debt reductions, cuts in entitlement programs or tax reform.

Will president negotiate?

The White House initially welcomed word of a proposal from the GOP and indicated it could be willing to negotiate.

However, the president apparently returned quickly to his position of refusing to negotiate until he gets everything he wants, first.

A White House official said the president would be only willing to hold budget negotiations “once Republicans in Congress act to remove the threat of default and end this harmful government shutdown.”

The president has warned that failure to raise the debt ceiling would be catastrophic, although WND has reported many lawmakers and economists disagree.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that he would be unable to guarantee any payments, including Social Security, unless Congress raises the federal debt ceiling.

GOP: Sky not falling

But Republicans on the committee were highly skeptical and said the real problem was the skyrocketing costs of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, as well as the debt.

Boehner presented the plan to delay the debt-ceiling deadline to GOP House members Thursday morning.

They convened to hammer out what they hope to negotiate in a meeting between GOP House leaders and President Obama late Thursday afternoon.

The initial reaction to that news from conservatives was not optimistic.

“I’m not very enthusiastic” about the plan, said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, had hoped to put the legislation on the floor for a vote Thursday or Friday.

Obamacare still an issue?

The key looked to be be whether the rank and file were willing to agree to any deal that does not include concessions on Obamacare, such as delaying the individual mandate for a year.

Sources told Red State that “Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are plotting to give up trying to either defund or delay Obamacare.”

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va, wrote an editorial Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal calling on the president to consider negotiations on spending cuts, reducing the national debt, measures to jump start the economy, reforming entitlement programs and simplifying the tax code.

The article contained no mention of Obamacare. There was no call for delaying the individual mandate, no less defunding the health-care law. The conservative base of the GOP noticed.

Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin said, “Not once did Mr. Ryan mention the program that is hurting hard-working Americans” and demanded “Congress stop spending our tax money on this unaffordable, unworkable” health-care law.

The Washington Post claims the Ryan-Cantor editorial is a “clear signal” that GOP House leaders “are abandoning their bid to immediately stop the federal health-care law.”

Instead, claims the Post, “they are regrouping for a longer battle over the health-care law.”

Stock market reacts

The stock market jumped Thursday after word of a possible deal on the debt ceiling, as the Dow Jones rose 323 points for the day.

President Obama has warned that failure to raise the debt ceiling could cause a global economic catastrophe.

As WND reported,CNBC’s Lawrence Kudlow accused the president of trying to scare the market with that kind of talk, and threatening “to pull the whole system down for (his) own gain.”

“I have a strong suspicion that Obama and his troops are trying to provoke a massive sell-off in stocks and bonds to further their political position,” said Kudlow.

Worse yet, he feared the president could be turning his doomsday scenario into a reality, saying, “a massive sell-off like that could conceivably become a self-fulfilling prophecy, driving the (global) economy into recession.”

Kudlow has harsh words for what he suspects is the president’s purely political motivation for using scare tactics. “This kind of political tactic is beneath the presidency. No president — not Nixon, Carter, Reagan, the Bushes or Clinton — has ever menaced and assaulted the financial world to achieve short-term political gains the way Obama has. This has never happened before.”

He even suggested the president is acting against the interests of the United States, because “of the extraordinary importance of our financial system, especially after the crisis of 2008, Obama’s selfish tactics border on the unpatriotic. Presidents don’t act that way … And they don’t try to pull down the whole system for their own gain.”

Against it before he was for it

Kudlow isn’t the only one to question a president’s patriotism over the national debt.

When Obama was a candidate for president in 2008 he called President Bush “unpatriotic” for increasing the national debt by $4 trillion.

Since then, Obama has increased the national debt by $6 trillion, hitting a total of $16.7 trillion this week.

Obama was also against increasing the debt ceiling before he was for it.

He, and all his Senate colleagues, voted in 2006 against Bush’s raising of the debt ceiling to $8.9 trillion.

Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth

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