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Debt Talks ‘Down to the Hard Stuff’



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The so-called “Biden Commission” has wrapped a series of meetings this week and expects as many as four meetings next week, with staffers working “around the clock” in an effort to reach a deal on deficit reduction in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

“We have almost covered the whole waterfront in the federal budget,” Vice President Biden said on his way out of the Capitol on Thursday, indicating there is still a lot of work to be done to bridge the gap between the two sides. He explained that negotiators were approaching the talks from the outside in, picking off low-hanging fruit under the assumption that a deal on the most controversial items (taxes, entitlements, etc.) will be hammered out eventually. “We’re getting down to the real hard stuff,” he said. “I’ll trade you my bicycle for your golf clubs.”

Biden said the talks were focused on an end goal of “$4 trillion over a decade or so” in deficit reduction, and acknowledged that any package must be “a real down payment” in order to convince financial markets that Washington is serious about getting its debt under control. “The single most important thing we can do for the markets is convince them… we can handle difficult decisions,” he said.

The vice president brushed aside concerns that negotiators would reach a deal and be unable to sell it to their respective caucuses. “We’ve been appointed by the leadership. We know the principles for whom we speak,” he said. “We’re not going to cut any deal that can’t be sold.” Any eventual deal, he added, must be able to get “a lot of Democrat and a lot of Republican votes.”



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