Vitter: Cut deficit via growth, not tax hikes

President Obama is expected to meet again with congressional leaders Sunday evening at the White House about hiking the nation's debt ceiling, with what most observers agree is an Aug. 2 deadline looming to get a deal done.

White House and congressional staffers will work furiously through the weekend leading up to Sunday's meeting, reports CBS News correspondent Whit Johnson, adding, "All sides are eager for progress ... but few are expecting a deal by then."

Mr. Obama wants everyone to come armed with their bottom lines, says Johnson. "Democrats and Republicans are still far apart," he points out, "and any deal ... is sure to inflict pain on both parties."

The President's pushing for an accord that would reduce deficits by up to $4 trillion.

But Democrats are growing increasingly uneasy over statements from Mr. Obama that changes to entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are on the table.

Republicans welcomed the word, but so far, aren't budging over White House demands to increase taxes on the wealthy and end subsidies for companies.

The entrenched positions mean both parties stand to lose political points should there be a compromise, Johnson says.

All in all, Sen. David Vitter (R, La.) told "Early Show on Saturday Morning" co-anchor Russ Mitchell that after an update from House Speaker John Boehner Friday, the discussions "did seem to be certainly more positive than a week or ten days before that.

"I think the sides are quite far apart, still, but it at least it was a positive discussion," Vitter said.

Are Republicans prepared to budge on raising taxes on the rich?

"There's a possibility," Vitter responded, "about revenue - revenue through growth, revenue through tax reform and tax simplification, which could produce real growth, and of course, when you grow the economy, which we desperately need. ... We just heard about these horrible unemployment figures (released Friday; the Labor Department says the private sector produced only 18,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate nudged up to 9.2 percent), you also produce more revenue, so I think that is the key area where we should focus.

Reaching agreement in time to head off a government default is, Vitter says, "sort of a 50/50 proposition. I do hope everybody goes into the meeting and discussion Sunday with no absolutes or preconceived notions, but we need the right policy to produce growth, a better economy and deficit reduction."

The Republican Senator said his biggest concern would be giving in tax hikes, which he opposes.

"A lot of conservatives like me are very much against significant tax hikes, because it's gonna do the opposite, and obviously, we want unemployment to go down, not up even further," Vitter said.

Vitter said raising revenue via tax increases would "stifle any recovery, it would increase unemployment yet more, which is horrible in and of itself, but also would kill the prospects of deficit reduction. We need growth and prosperity for deficit reduction, as well as cuts in spending."

Growth, Vitter says, "can produce more revenue, new revenue, that's an important part of the solution but that's a whole lot different than just hiking up taxes on folks."

"Certainly," he said later, "nobody wants to go past a true deadline about the debt limit. I don't think August 2 is absolutely set in stone. The world doesn't end the next day, but certainly, sometime soon after, that serious consequences would follow."