President Barack Obama opened the private session by asking all parties to look for common ground, but the entrenched positions in play will make that difficult to achieve. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for instance, laid out specific conditions that must be met in order to gain GOP support. These included immediate budget caps on discretionary spending followed by eligibility changes to Medicare and Medicaid.
The Washington Post: McConnell Demands Spending Cuts, Medicare Overhaul For Deal On Debt Limit
The top Senate Republican sought Thursday to clarify his party's stance on Medicare heading into high-stakes talks with the White House, telling President Obama he wants "significant" changes to the program in exchange for lifting the legal limit on government borrowing (Montgomery, 5/12).
The New York Times: McConnell Ties Debt Limit To Spending Reductions
The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, said Thursday that the debt ceiling debate provides Congress with a rare opportunity to make sweeping changes to entitlement programs and spending, and that he would not vote to raise the level without significant budget cuts and revisions to Medicare and Medicaid (Steinhauer, 5/12).
Los Angeles Times: Obama Asks GOP Senators To Help Find Compromise On Spending And Debt
President Obama opened a private meeting with Senate Republicans on Thursday by asking them to search for compromise in the ongoing budget talks, but entrenched positions on both sides underscored the difficulty of resolving differences in time to avert a possible financial crisis. … But McConnell countered in Thursday's meeting by laying out the contours of a proposal to earn his vote, and presumably that of the other 46 Republican senators: immediate budget caps over the next two years that press down discretionary spending, followed by eligibility changes to the Medicare and Medicaid health programs over the next five to 10 years and beyond. And no new taxes (Mascaro and Parsons, 5/13).