Clyburn urges Congress to get past semantics to reach debt deal

Rep. Clyburn talks to reporters Tuesday in Columbia. / Janet Parker

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- South Carolina Democratic Congressman James Clyburn thinks members of Congress could reach a deal to avoid a government default if they get past the semantics of tax increases.

U.S. Rep. Clyburn says one of the biggest obstacles in talks to resolve the issue is that many Republicans consider closing tax loopholes to be the same as raising taxes. This is a problem, he says, because most House Republicans have signed a no-new-taxes pledge.

"I would say to my representative friends that we're never going to agree with the 80% of the people who think it's unseeming," Clyburn told reporters in a media roundtable Tuesday.

Clyburn says a short-term deal to avoid default on Aug. 2 might be the only viable option "if we can't get a longer term deal."

Related Stories... State audit: No missing funds at Clyburn center Rep. Clyburn sounds off on Rep. Weiner sex scandal SC delegation says harbor project gets funds

"If you consider closing loopholes raising taxes, that keeps us from having a good conversation about where to go from here. And that's the problem," he adds.

President Barack Obama is warning lawmakers against falling back on a short-term solution to raise the nation's borrowing limit while delaying a decision on long-term deficit reductions.

Obama says he has invited lawmakers to the White House on Thursday to continue negotiations. He says he hopes the White House and Congress can reach an agreement within two weeks.

Obama says progress is being made but real differences still exist.

Clyburn places the blame for some of the country's debt problems on funding three wars on credit, something, he says, the country has never done before.

The Obama administration says that if the government's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit is not increased by Aug. 2, the U.S. will face its first default ever, potentially throwing financial markets into turmoil.

Clyburn also touched on South Carolina redistricting, retirement, Medicare and Medicade and the deficit reduction led by Vice President Joe Biden at his office in Columbia.

What do you think should be done about the U.S. debt crisis? Vote in our web poll below and leave a comment.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)