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McConnell Says Debt Deal is 'Very, Very Close;' Plouffe Keeps Tax Hikes on the Table McConnell Says Debt Deal is 'Very, Very Close;' Plouffe Keeps Tax Hike...

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McConnell Says Debt Deal is 'Very, Very Close;' Plouffe Keeps Tax Hikes on the Table

11:45. Thune Stresses Cuts, McCaskill Calls for Compromise

Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., agreed on Sunday that the debt ceiling debate reflects fundamental philosophical differences on Capitol Hill about the size and role of the government.

The Republican approach, Thune said on NBC’s Meet the Press, is to cut government spending while still growing the economy. “We spend too much," Thune said. “We have got to rein in these spending programs. That is going to drive us over the cliff if we don’t do it.”

McCaskill, meanwhile, stressed the need for compromise, adding that there should be "more volume" in the debate from moderates. Any deficit-reduction plan, she added, should be a balanced approach that looks at entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security while still preserving them. Defense spending should also be on the table for cuts, she added.

Also Sunday, Thune said he will not run for president in 2012, but he signaled he would consider the vice presidency. “I’m not going to rule anything out,” he said.

 

Megan Scully

11:40. McConnell Makes the Case for Compromise

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., began to make his case for the emerging debt-ceiling deal for the benefit of skeptics in his own party.

 

Asked about the prospect of Republican unrest over the deal raised earlier Sunday by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., McConnell argued on CBS’s Face the Nation that compromise is necessary since the GOP “controls only a portion of the government.”

“Let’s get as much spending reduction as we can possibly get out of a government that we don’t control,” he said, directing his comments to conservatives.

Deron Lee

11:15. Plouffe Offers No Assurances on Military Pay

 

In the event of a U.S. default, White House adviser David Plouffe said on Sunday that the Treasury Department will outline "very clearly" how the government will pay its most pressing bills.

Still, Plouffe provided no specifics in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, and when asked, he offered no assurances that military personnel would be paid if lawmakers and the White House fail to reach a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling by the August 2 deadline.

During a trip this weekend to Afghanistan, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said he did not know whether troops’ paychecks would be affected.

Megan Scully

10:45. Graham Says Deal May Not Draw Many GOP Votes

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tossed some cold water over the increasing optimism on a prospective debt deal, suggesting that GOP votes in both chambers may be hard to come by -- including his own.

“I’m not ready to vote for this,” Graham said, appearing Sunday on ABC's This Week

The proposed cuts in the deal, Graham said, do not go deep enough to satisfy voters who ushered in the GOP House majority in 2010.

“We have not reduced the size and scope of government,” he said, estimating that only about half of the House GOP conference would be likely to vote for the deal. Notably, Graham's GOP state delegation voted en masse against the debt-ceiling bill crafted last week by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Deron Lee

10:20. Plouffe Confident That Revenues Will Be Part of Deal

White House adviser David Plouffe says he’s confident that tax increases will be eventually be part of a deficit-reduction plan, even if it’s not required as part of a deal this week to avert a U.S. default.

“I think any long-term deficit-reduction is going to include revenues,” Plouffe told ABC’s This Week.

Yet Plouffe was unwilling to commit that revenue increases would automatically kick in -- along with spending cuts -- if a so-called “Super Committee” can’t agree on a deficit-reduction plan by Thanksgiving. The committee would be established under a tentative deal reached between the White House and congressional leaders on Saturday night.

The tentative deal calls for $2.8 trillion in deficit reduction, with $1 trillion locked in through discretionary spending caps over 10 years and the remainder determined by the Super Committee.

Ron Fournier

9:53. Tax Hikes Would Be Delayed Until 2013, Sperling Says

President Obama’s top economic adviser said on Sunday that any tax increase aimed at reducing the deficit would not go into effect for the next 18 months -- a move that would delay it until after the 2012 presidential elections.

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, said revenue raisers should be part of any plan to reduce the country’s deficit, stressing the need for a "shared sacrifice" among Americans. But he said the administration wants to push tax increases off until 2013 to give the economy time to recover.

Sperling also stressed the importance of an enforcement mechanism to get a bipartisan congressional committee to come to an agreement on a long-term deficit reduction plan. “What matters is that that enforcement mechanism be an incentive for both sides to compromise,” Sperling said.

Megan Scully

9:51. Senate Whips Durbin and Kyl Confirm Deal is Close

Two top vote-counters confirm that congressional leaders and the White House are close to a deal to end the debt-limit debate and escape a U.S. default.

“I have a more positive feeling than I did 24 hours ago,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

“I agree,” said Durbin's counterpart, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

Durbin said the remaining sticking point is the so-called “trigger” -- a provision in the tentative deal that would force action from Congress if lawmakers can’t agree on a second round of deficit reduction later this year.

Sources tell National Journal that a tentative deal calls includes a trigger that would send a balanced-budget amendment to the states for ratification if a so-called “Super Committee” can’t agree on deficit reduction later this year. An alternative: across-the-board spending cuts that could touch Medicare and defense spending.

Ron Fournier

9:45. Schumer Not Giving Up on Tax Hikes

Minutes after the Senate’s top Republican ruled out tax increases, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats want any deficit-cutting committee established as part of a debt-ceiling plan to review raising government revenues.

Democrats’ preference, he said, is to take a “balanced approach” that would include tax increases for the wealthiest Americans.

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, Schumer stressed that there is no final agreement, adding that it would be premature to talk about any specifics. But he indicated that a deal is close at hand, despite lingering differences over tax increases and other issues.

“If there’s a word right here that would sum up the mood, it would be relief,” Schumer said.

Megan Scully

9:40. GOP's McCarthy Not Concerned About Backlash

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., says Republicans aren’t worried about political blowback from the debt-ceiling debate, which has highlighted the GOP’s zeal to slash government spending.

“Maybe we’re going to ruffle some feathers,” McCarthy said on Fox News Sunday, “but you know what? We’re tired of the gimmicks.”

Ron Fournier

9:25. Sperling Confirms Outline of Two-Step Deal

“We’re approaching the final hour,” said President Obama’s top economic adviser on Sunday, as the White House and Republicans neared final agreement on a deficit-reduction plan that would avert a U.S. default.

“It ain’t over until it’s over,” Gene Sperling told Fox News Sunday.

Sperling confirmed that the emerging compromise would involve two steps -- the first involving massive spending cuts sought by Republicans. Sperling suggested that Obama also wants revenue increases in the second step later this year.

According to National Journal sources, the tentative deal includes $2.8 trillion in deficit reduction with $1 trillion locked in through discretionary spending caps over 10 years and the remainder determined by a "Super Committee" by Thanksgiving. If the Super Committee fails, Congress must send a balanced-budget amendment to the states for ratification. If that doesn't happen, across-the-board spending cuts would go into effect and could touch Medicare and defense spending. No net new tax revenue would be part of the special committee's deliberations, according to the sources, despite Sperling’s remarks.

Ron Fournier

9:20. McConnell Says Debt Deal is 'Very, Very Close'

After a week spent “firing volleys back and forth across the Capitol,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Sunday that negotiators are “very, very close” on a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling.

“We had a very good day yesterday,” McConnell said, speaking on CNN’s State of the Union. McConnell said the deal would avoid default but not include any tax increases.

The parameters of the deal are still being worked out, but McConnell said it centers on a $3 trillion deficit-cutting package that includes cuts and caps for discretionary spending.

The deal would also establish a joint committee with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats to find savings, including changes to entitlement spending. The committee would report back to Congress by Thanksgiving, and lawmakers would hold an up or down vote on the recommendations.

Megan Scully

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