Lawmakers Talk About Same Goals, Offer Starkly Different Suggestions for Debt Deal

June 20, 2011

Negotiators have set July 1 as a preliminary deadline for reaching an agreement on the debt ceiling, but to hear Capitol Hill lawmakers on Sunday offer grandiose ideas combined with large amounts of partisanship, it may be impossible to reach a deal in less than two weeks.

Vice President Joe Biden says an agreement is needed by the end of June so that party leaders can return to their caucuses and sell a compromise before the Aug. 2 deadline Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says is the drop dead date to avoid default on America’s debts.

While many Democrats say they favored a “clean” debt limit vote to raise the ceiling without conditions, Republicans said Washington can’t allow unrestricted spending.

That means compromise, a word second only to sorry in degree of difficulty for Washington insiders.

Nonetheless, the formation of a compromise appears to be centralizing around a long-term plan for reducing the nation’s debt by at least $4 trillion over the next decade.

Getting there is the tough part.

Republicans refuse to include tax increases to pare down the annual deficit, though they say they would be open to cutting out loopholes like ending the ethanol subsidies and simplifying the tax code to help corporations as well as individuals like small business owners.

Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott told Fox News on Sunday that “the best thing we saw last week” was Senate Republicans voting “in large numbers” to get rid of the ethanol subsidy.

But don’t expect that to be the start of a trend, say Republicans.

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