Administration, Congress Still Searching for Elusive 'Grand Bargain'
by Patrick Lester, 6/11/2013
Although declining budget deficits would appear to have undercut pressure for another grand bargain on deficit reduction, administration officials are continuing to meet with Congress in search of an agreement.
According to a report in Politico, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough met with a dozen Senate Republicans on June 5 to hear their views on the budget situation over the next three decades.
“We have suggested to the chief of staff — [what] we need to do is to agree on the size of the problem,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), one of the participants at the meeting. “The next step is for them to come back with a response.”
In a separate meeting, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met with Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee. Republicans have demanded that any increase in the debt ceiling be tied to an agreement on tax reform. The administration has rejected that view.
“[Lew] delivered the same message he’s delivered publicly many times,” an anonymous Treasury official told Politico. “We have a shared interest in tax reform, but [that] needs to happen in the context of a broader fiscal frame. In other words, [you] need to know what your revenue target is before you set out.”
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, openly disagreed with this assertion during the meeting.