White House, GOP Senators Throw In The Towel On Budget Talks

Over the past weeks, the Republicans had moved away from the kind of "grand bargain" sought by the president, which would have combined higher tax revenues with cuts to programs like Medicare. Republicans said the talks had yielded "no common ground."

The New York Times: Talks To Avert A Fiscal Crisis In The Fall End With No Result
Over the past weeks, the Senate group — which called itself the “sounding board” — had moved away from the kind of “grand bargain” Mr. Obama had sought, which would combine higher tax revenues and changes to social programs like Medicare to produce trillions of dollars in deficit reduction. Instead, they aimed simply to replace the automatic across-the-board cuts known as the sequester over the next eight years with other budget changes. Mr. Obama, in his most recent budget plan, had accepted $200 billion in sequester savings over eight years, and both sides appeared ready to leave in place small cuts to entitlement programs in the sequester legislation (Weisman, 8/29).

The Washington Post: White House, Republican Senators Give Up On Budget Talks
The end of the talks comes just over a week before Congress is to return from its summer break to confront a series of imminent deadlines, including the risk of a government shutdown Oct. 1 and potential default on the national debt a few weeks after that. … Through multiple meetings with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the group discussed a range of options, including a “grand bargain” that would involve a complete restructuring of Medicare, according to people familiar with the meetings, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private talks. The group also discussed a smaller deal that would replace much of the remaining sequester savings — about $500 billion over the next eight years — with narrower reforms to Medicare, Social Security and other ¬≠mandatory-spending programs, such as farm subsidies (Montgomery, 8/29).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Republican Senator Says Budget Talks With White House Officials Yield ‘No Common Ground’
But the budget talks have always split over Obama’s insistence that any reduction in programs such as Social Security or Medicare be accompanied by tax increases or closed loopholes for the rich that would generate more revenue. Obama did win more than $600 billion in tax increases over 10 years on wealthier taxpayers earlier this year and Republicans have said they would not cede more (8/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Budget Talks Fail To Bridge Divide
Republicans have offered to replace the bulk of the sequester cuts—$518 billion over eight years—with other, more targeted cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs, according to a GOP official familiar with the discussions. They offered to raise revenues to reduce the deficit, the official said, but not, as the White House wanted, to replace the sequester (Hook, 8/29).

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