Published on : Sunday, October 13, 2013
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans struggled
inconclusively Thursday to find common ground that could avert an economy-tanking
default and possibly end the 10-day-old partial government shutdown that has idled 350,000
“We expect further conversations tonight,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said
cryptically, after he, Speaker John Boehner and a delegation of House Republicans had
met for an hour or so with Obama at the White House.
He spoke at dusk, long after Boehner first outlined a compromise proposal that the White
House carefully avoided rejecting – only to have Senate Democrats declare it unacceptable.
The up-and-down day coincided with a dour warning from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew,
who told lawmakers that the prospect of default had already caused interest rates to rise –
and that worse lay ahead.
“Not going to happen,” Majority Leader Harry Reid said brusquely. The Republican plan would leave the shutdown in place while raising the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt limit and setting up negotiations between the GOP and Obama over spending cuts and other issues.
Heartened by any hint of progress, Wall Street chose to accentuate the positive. After days
of decline, the Dow Jones industrial average soared 323 points on hopes that the divided
government was taking steps to avoid a default.
Reid’s dismissive comments at the White
House came at the end of the trading day.Senate Republicans forged ahead on an alternative of their own that would ease both the debt-limit and shutdown crises at once.
Officials said that it would require Obama to agree to some relatively modest changes to the health care law that stands as his signature domestic achievement.