Kyl: Biden Talks Agree on $150 Billion in Cuts (And Counting)

by Andrew Stiles

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), who is representing Senate Republicans at the ‘Gang of Biden’ negotiations on deficit reduction, told reporters on Capitol Hill that the bipartisan negotiations have yielded general agreement on about $150 billion in spending cuts, with the acknowledgment that trillions more will have to be cut as part of any long-term deal. “We’ve just gotten started,” he said. “We all recognize that we have to do a lot more than that.”

Kyl said negotiators had identified about $100 billion in “overlapping” cuts in the 2012 budget proposals put forward by House Republicans and the White House, and had agreed to an additional $50 billion beyond that. He did not specify where the cuts would come from, but insisted “everything is on the table” except for tax increases.

He reiterated House Speaker John Boehner’s (R., Ohio) position that any increase to the debt ceiling should be offset by an identical amount of spending cuts. The Treasury has requested a $2 trillion increase to the debt limit in order to extend the government’s borrowing authority beyond the 2012 elections.

Whatever the final amount of spending cuts attached to the debt limit vote, Kyl said it would be a mere “down payment” in pursuit of the greater goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years, and acknowledged that the Biden group had a long way to go before any final plan was agreed to. He said the option of limited, short-term increases to the debt limit, a strategy championed by Grover Norquist among others, had not come up in the negotiations.

Kyl also downplayed the doomsday rhetoric surrounding the possibility of a government default, saying that bond markets should have no reason to panic because “at some point the [debt] limit will be raised.”

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