Tags: obama | gop | senators | dinners

GOP Senators Say Dinners With Obama Have Yielded Little So Far

Image: GOP Senators Say Dinners With Obama Have Yielded Little So Far Republican senators including Ron Johnson, Tom Coburn, Richard Burr, and Saxby Chambliss leave the Jefferson Hotel in Washington on March 6 after a dinner with President Barack Obama.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 12:24 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Senate Republicans who recently dined with President Barack Obama in March are complaining that he hasn't followed up with meetings or talks on the budget deficit since that evening.

But they also acknowledge that the controversies over the IRS targeting of conservative groups, Justice Department seizure of reporters' phone and other records, and the ongoing debate over the Benghazi attacks may be hindering the president's focus on other issues.

"Those kinds of things can't help but turn the total focus of the deficit reduction away from the White House's perspective," Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, who dined with Obama on March 6 and went golfing with him earlier this month, told The Hill.

Chambliss said, however, "there is conversation" going on between Republicans and the White House that could eventually lead to a process that yields negotiations.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who helped to organize the dinner with the president, said neither side has gotten around to exchanging competing proposals, which they agreed to do at a White House dinner in April.

"We’ve been talking about trying to define the problem. Can we all agree what the next 30 years holds in terms of deficits, cost of entitlement programs? How much we’re going to spend, how much revenue we can generate?" Graham said. "It’s nice if you can have a 30-year view of things."

But other Republicans are losing patience and are calling on the president to simply lead.
"Everybody knows what the problem is. Everybody knows what the range of solutions to the problems are. Just stand up and lead on it," said Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

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