One new feature in the Geithner plan is a call for increasing the nation's debt limit without the need for congressional approval. Under last year's debt ceiling deal, Obama simply had to notify Congress that he was raising the debt ceiling, a move that could be blocked only if both houses of Congress approved resolutions of disapproval that Obama could veto. The administration wants a permanent extension of the debt ceiling with a similar legislative arrangement and with no offsetting spending cuts, as demanded by Republicans.
Following a closed-door meeting with Geithner, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declared "no substantive progress has been made between the White House and the House" in the two weeks since congressional leaders met with Obama at the White House.
"Unfortunately, many Democrats continue to rule out sensible spending cuts that must be part of any significant agreement that will reduce our deficit," Boehner said.
At the White House, presidential press secretary Jay Carney took on a confrontational tone, saying: "There can be no deal without rates on top earners going up."
"This should not be news to anyone on Capitol Hill. It is certainly not news to anyone in America who was not in a coma during the campaign season," he said.
The tenor of the public remarks, however, suggested the hard bargaining was about to begin. Four weeks remain before the year-end deadline and negotiations such as these often don't gel until time is running out.
For Obama, the trip to Pennsylvania is part of a strategy to press his case publicly even while negotiating privately. He has already met with small business owners and with middle-class families in separate White House events. He has also invited business and labor leaders to the White House as well as Democratic operatives who can echo his plans on the airwaves.