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CNN analysts react to Obama's debt appeal

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Obama offers 'balanced' solution to debt
  • Gloria Borger: Speeches by Obama, Boehner appear to show sides aren't near a deal
  • David Gergen: Remarks by both were far too political, and not useful
  • James Carville: Democrats are giving up a lot in negotiations, and Republicans aren't budging
  • Erick Erickson: Sides are closer to deal than speeches would indicate

(CNN) -- U.S. President Barack Obama, in a televised address Monday night, called on Americans to pressure lawmakers to reach a compromise that would raise the nation's debt ceiling and avoid a possible national default.

The Treasury Department says the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling must be raised by August 2. If it is not, the department says, the federal government won't be able to pay all its bills next month, and Americans could face rising interest rates and a declining dollar, among other problems.

Congressional Republicans have insisted that before the debt ceiling is raised, a deal to take steps to reduce the debt must be struck. Obama said Monday that such a deal should be balanced between spending cuts and revenue hikes -- though a plan outlined Monday by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would require no new tax increases in the short term -- and said that Republicans instead have insisted on spending cuts only.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, countered in a televised speech minutes later that excessive government spending caused the debt problem, and cutting that spending is the only way to solve it.

Here's how CNN analysts reacted to the speeches:

Gloria Borger, CNN chief political analyst


On the speeches giving the impression that the two sides are nowhere near a deal, and on Obama talking about tax increases on a day when Reid offered a plan without them:

"You listen to both speeches, and it's as if we have not made any progress in this heated debate that we've been covering for most of the last month. It still comes down to the question of tax increases versus spending cuts, and each party is kind of living in a parallel universe here. And while they've been working to get around that ... when you listen to them, they're nowhere close to getting a deal, it seems."

"What was interesting also was that the debate we were having in Washington (earlier) today (with proposals offered by Reid and Boehner) seems to have moved beyond the tax increases, at least in the short term. Nobody today is talking about tax increases except for Barack Obama, who still talked about that tonight in his speech. The plan by Harry Reid contains no tax increases, in the short term. The plan by John Boehner (also) contains no tax increases."

David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst


On Obama and Boehner appearing to be appealing to their political bases, and on Obama asking Americans to call members of Congress:

"Had these speeches been given three or four weeks ago, I think they would have been welcomed as part of the political discourse -- you know, let's have some fisticuffs, each side presses its point of view, appeals to the American people. But to be given on the eve of a possible default, both individuals gave partisan speeches ... and I think each was intending to rally his own base. President Obama was clearly trying to rally his Democratic base to send an avalanche of calls and e-mails, twitters, whatever, to Congress to back the Democratic plans and to bash the Republicans. And John Boehner was trying to do just the opposite.

"And to have that happen on the eve, I think it's good politics, but in terms of getting the national answer in the next eight days, I think it left us farther away from getting an answer. It's going to further divide the country.

"I think probably each fellow came out better with his base, but I think the country is so tired of the political posturing, and people really want leadership that finds answers and gets us of the edge of a cliff."

James Carville, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor


On his belief that Democrats are giving up a lot in negotiations:

"The Democrats ... keep trying to surrender. They're saying, 'We'll cut Social Security, we'll cut Medicare, we'll cut Medicaid, we'll give you a plan that doesn't have any tax increases,' ... and (Republicans) keep rejecting it. This thing is a rout. The Republicans are winning this thing in a rout in terms of getting what they want.

"And poor Speaker Boehner came up with a plan today, and ... the Tea Party didn't even want that. So I think that you can't negotiate if one side is not interested in negotiating. This is like Napoleon and Moscow in 1812. 'I don't want to negotiate. There's nothing to talk about here.' So I don't know where this is going to end up. Maybe the Democrats can find somebody to take the white flag. So far, they haven't been able to do it."

Erick Erickson, editor and CNN contributor


On how close he believes the sides are to a deal, and whether that deal will be sufficient to sustain the country's top credit rating:

"I actually think they're closer than all of these speeches would suggest. If you look at what Harry Reid is proposing and you look at what John Boehner is proposing, other than John Boehner requiring two votes and a few other issues, by and large their plans are identical. I suspect the plans will get merged within the week.

"Now, guys like me won't like it. We knew a compromise was coming. The problem is that neither plan cuts $3 trillion to $4 trillion, which is what Standard & Poor's said (lawmakers) would need to do to keep the credit rating at AAA."