President Barack Obama isn't taking debt-limit talks seriously but is rather waiting for Republicans to make proposals on the issue and then jump at the chance to trash their ideas, says former GOP presidential candidate and Forbes Magazine Publisher Steve Forbes.
The government has hit its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and needs congressional approval to lift that limit.
Democrats and Republicans are at odds over terms attached to raising the ceiling, with Republicans opposed to tax hikes and Democrats against certain spending cuts.
The administration has said the ceiling has to rise by Aug. 2 or the government won't be able to pay its bills and will default.
(Getty Images photo)
For Forbes, this scenario would never have played out just a couple of decades ago because tax issues would have been hammered out.
"Twenty-five years ago we had substantial tax reforms because both Democrats and the Republican president were serious about it," Forbes tells CNBC.
"We reduced the top rate from 50 percent down to 28 percent because both parties were serious. This time, the president is not serious because when Paul Ryan puts down the substantive pearls on the table, he goes out and trashes them."
The president has appointed bipartisan commissions to study ways to narrow gaping U.S. deficits but doesn't want to listen to them or anyone else, Forbes says.
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Forbes said that if Obama was serious, the president "would have taken that debt commission he had in December, put a substantive proposal on the table like Paul Ryan instead of urging the Republicans to come out, which the Republicans did on that day, and just trash them."
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has said the United States may experience a serious debt crisis if Washington politicians fail to agree on a path to get spending under control.
"We have a debt crisis coming. It's hitting not just our country but countries around the world. We want to get ahead of it," Ryan says on CBS "The Early Show."
Ryan didn't specifically mention Europe, where policymakers are struggling to help Greece work through its debt problems, which are threatening to spread to Italy and other countries.
Back in the United States, Obama is warning that the government might not be able to pay seniors their Social Security checks if the ceiling isn't lifted.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on Aug. 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama says in a CBS interview.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said he wants lawmakers to strike a deal in days. "We know we don't have a lot of time," Geithner says, according to Reuters.
"I think the leaders understand we don't have a lot of time, and we want to wrap up the broad outlines of an agreement by the end of this week — certainly by the end of next week — so that we have time to legislate it and put it in place."
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