Debt-reduction package continues to take shape

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the goal of trimming $2 trillion from the federal budget in the next 10 years will not be enough to change the rate of growth of the nation's debt. In the background, negotiators continue to "bear down" on the remaining "serious" issues.

The Washington Post: Senate Budget Chairman Says $2 Trillion Not Enough
The debt-reduction package emerging in talks between the White House and congressional leaders would not "fundamentally change" the alarming rate of growth in the national debt, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said Tuesday. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said the goal of slicing more than $2 trillion from the federal budget by 2021 falls far short of the savings needed to stabilize borrowing, re-energize the economy and avert the threat of a debt crisis (Montgomery and Helderman, 6/21).

Politico Pro: Biden Team Keeps On As Pressure Mounts
Federal lawmakers involved in closed-door talks over how to cut spending and raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit sidestepped detailed health policy points on Tuesday to instead address broader drains on the deficit. The negotiations continued even while their colleagues expressed concerns over both content and a quickly diminishing calendar. "We're slogging through some very tough issues," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told reporters after he emerged from about a two-hour meeting in the Capitol. "We're getting in very serious conversations, trying to bear down on some big issues" (Dobias, 6/22).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Seeking Sweeping Cuts, Negotiators In Budget Talks Are Tempted By Gimmickry
Negotiators seeking to carve trillions of dollars from the deficit are facing temptation to use iffy assumptions and outright gimmickry to exaggerate the size of spending cuts to accompany any increase in the government's ability to borrow to stay afloat. With both sides reluctant to abandon long-held positions — Republicans are against tax increases, Democrats oppose cutting benefit programs like Medicare — those watching the talks being led by Vice President Joe Biden are on the lookout for a familiar set of accounting tricks (6/22).

Politico: AARP In Damage Control As Democrats Criticize Shift
But the damage had been done: It's exposed divisions within the Democratic Party over whether to take on Social Security with a Democratic president in the White House, and it gave Republicans new ammunition to push entitlement reforms in talks over slashing the deficit (Raju, 6/21).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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