Washington (CNN) - Partisan warfare over the looming debt ceiling crisis escalated Tuesday as GOP leaders once again refused to consider any tax hikes and President Barack Obama warned that, absent a deal, he can't guarantee older Americans will continue receiving Social Security checks next month.
"There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama said, according to excerpts of a CBS News interview scheduled to air Tuesday night.
"We can't guarantee - if there were a default - any specific bill would be paid," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Top lawmakers from both sides of the aisle met with Obama for almost two hours at the White House later Tuesday, and another session was scheduled for Wednesday, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia.
Cantor also said Obama presented more details of his proposed cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare, and that Republicans support what they heard. However, Cantor reiterated GOP opposition to higher taxes, which is the main sticking point to a deal.
Administration officials have warned that a failure to raise the current $14.3 trillion ceiling by August 2 could trigger a partial default. If Washington lacks the money to meet its bills, interest rates could skyrocket and the value of the dollar could decline, among other things.
Negotiators have been debating trillions of dollars in possible savings over the next decade, a response to GOP demands for significant spending cuts in exchange for any debt ceiling increase. Democrats are furious, however, that Republicans refuse to consider any tax hikes as part of a deal.
In the CBS interview, Obama noted that former President Ronald Reagan compromised on increasing tax revenue, and wondered why Republicans today remain so adamantly opposed.
"The question is, if Ronald Reagan could compromise, why wouldn't folks who idolize Ronald Reagan be willing to engage in those same kinds of compromises," Obama said.
In addition to ruling out tax increases, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has also said overall spending cuts must exceed the size of any debt ceiling increase, and that new restraints must be imposed on future spending.
"One hundred percent of the problem is on the spending side," Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a member of the GOP leadership, said Tuesday morning.
Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said he has lost any hopes of a "grand bargain" with the White House.
"As long as this president is in the Oval Office a real solution (to the country's fiscal problems) is unattainable," McConnell said. Obama "will do almost anything to protect the size and the scope of Washington, D.C.'s burgeoning bureaucracy."
For their part, Democrats also dug in their heels.FULL STORY
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