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Republicans pull out of high-stakes deficit talks. What happens now?

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner tried to have deputies hash out a grand compromise on deficit reduction and the debt limit. Now, they'll have to step in.

By Staff writer / June 23, 2011

House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia, pictured here in the Capitol, pulled out of bipartisan budget talks headed by Vice President Joe Biden Thursday, citing an impasse over taxes.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Republicans pulled out of deficit talks on Thursday, saying they won’t accept a Democratic demand that tax increases have to be part of any budget deal. Does this mean the high-level financial negotiating forum – led by Vice President Joe Biden – is essentially dead?

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That appears to be the case. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday afternoon that the talks are in “abeyance.”

“They may or may not resume in different forms,” he said.

What happens next? That’s unclear. But it’s long been obvious that the talks would hit a stumbling block at some point over the issue of taxes. What the GOP pullout does is clarify the positions of the two parties and kick the whole thing upstairs.

If Washington is going to strike a grand bargain that cuts future spending while simultaneously lifting the $14.3 billion limit on Treasury borrowing, it may have to be struck by the top elected officials of each party, face-to-face. That means it all now may be up to President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner.

“He’s in charge, I think most Americans think it’s about time he started acting like it,” said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky on the Senate floor, referring to Mr. Obama.

The White House did not go so far as to say that Obama and Mr. Boehner now will be the principal negotiators in the budget impasse. But administration officials did imply that Obama now will be taking a larger role in the process.

"As all of us at the table said at the outset, the goal of these talks was to report our findings back to our respective leaders," said Mr. Biden in a statement. "The next phase is in the hands of those leaders, who need to determine the scope of an agreement that can tackle the problem and attract bipartisan support."

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