The Post reports: “Congressional leaders emerged from the fifth round of talks led by Vice President Biden on Thursday afternoon offering few specifics on progress toward a comprehensive deficit-reduction deal but pledging to accelerate the pace of their meetings.” I am told that three meetings are planned for next week. So what is going on?
On the Senate side, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made it clear that to get his vote on a deal there must be entitlement reform. And those familiar with the talks tell me that in fact Medicare cuts are on the table.
Some remain optimistic that a deal can be struck. In yesterday’s meeting, however, it was apparent that the administration, rotten jobs numbers or not, was still trolling for tax hikes. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner made the case for more revenue. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was one who pushed back, making the case that tax increases would only worsen the grim jobs figures. There was some discussion of discretionary spending, but few details.
Does this sound like a deal is in the offing? Well, one Capitol Hill source says of the amount of progress, that there has been “some — not enough yet, but some.”
Two things are certain. First, the House won’t pass a tax hike. Second, if there is a deal on Medicare, the entire Mediscare gambit for the Democrats fades. For that reason, I find it hard to believe the Democrats will give up their new favorite campaign ploy. That, however, leaves them in a quandary: Where are the savings going to come from that will allow the House to pass a debt-ceiling increase?