GOP leader Cantor says deficit talks at an impasse

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va, on the Sunday, May 29, 2011 edition of "Face the Nation." CBS/Chris Usher

CBS/Chris Usher

Updated at 12 p.m. ET

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the deficit reduction negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden have reached an impasse over taxes.

Biden's group plans on meeting today to continue discussions, but Cantor said he is skipping today's negotiations. The current impasse won't be solved until President Obama specifically addresses the Democratic party's insistence on including tax increases as part of a deficit reduction deal, he said.

"There is not support in the House for a tax increase, and I don't believe now is the time to raise taxes in light of our current economic situation," Cantor said in a statement. "Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue."

The majority leader's pessimistic remarks come as Biden's group approaches a self-imposed deadline for reaching a deficit reduction deal and raising the nation's debt ceiling. They're hoping to reach an agreement before Congress leaves for its July 4 recess -- that would give Congress a month to actually pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling without risking a great strain on the economy.

The Obama administration and several economists have warned Congress to raise the debt limit by Aug. 2 to avoid economic catastrophe after the U.S. government hit its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling on May 16. The Treasury Department has taken accounting steps to keep the government from defaulting in the meantime, but it has said Aug. 2 is a hard deadline.

In his statement, Cantor urged Mr. Obama to "speak clearly and resolve the tax issue."

Cantor's move takes some pressure off him as the Republican face of the talks and forces Mr. Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to cut a deal that is likely to be unpopular.

A recent CBS News poll found that 63 percent of Americans think raising the debt limit is a bad idea.

Both Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell also gave remarks today that put the onus on Mr. Obama.

After Cantor announced he was skipping today's meeting, Boehner told reporters he understood Cantor's frustrations.

"If we're going to meet the president's timetable" for reaching an agreement, Boehner said, "he needs to engage."

Speaking on the Senate floor this morning, McConnell said Mr. Obama has up to this point "stood in the background."

"He has acted as if it's not his problem," he said. "Well, it is his problem. This is his problem to solve. America is waiting."

Cantor said once the tax issue is resolved, the deficit reduction group has "a blueprint to move forward to trillions of spending cuts and binding mechanisms to change the way things are done around here."

He credited Biden for leading the deficit negotiations to this point. "I believe that we have identified trillions in spending cuts, and to date, we have established a blueprint that could institute the fiscal reforms needed to start getting our fiscal house in order," he said.

Just last week, Biden expressed optimism that the bipartisan group would work out a deal by the end of June.

McConnell suggested earlier this month that Congress could pass a bill to raise the debt limit in the short term while it continues negotiations, but Cantor and Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer have shot down that idea.

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