They spent the weekend blaming each other for the $85 billion in sequestration cuts that began taking effect Friday — but top Democrats and Republicans were careful Sunday to keep the door open to a breakthrough deal on the federal budget.
Both sides claimed to find the sequestration abhorrent, but leaders from both parties stressed Sunday that they now have an opportunity to find the “big deal” — one that tackles politically treacherous territory such as entitlement reform and an overhaul of the tax code — that has eluded Washington for the past two years.
Like virtually all other Republicans, Mr. Graham said he absolutely will not accept tax rate hikes to solve the sequestration mess, which both parties agree is not the ideal way to cut federal spending.
But Mr. Graham said he is open to the type of major agreement that would raise about $600 billion in revenue by closing tax loopholes and eliminating deductions. That money, he said, then could be put toward reforming Medicare and other entitlement programs.
The two sides have until the end of this month to achieve such a deal. The resolution funding federal government operations expires at the end of March, meaning yet another showdown, this time to avoid a Washington shutdown, is right around the corner.
“We have to agree how to finish the [fiscal] year. It creates an opportunity for us to sit down, the president and congressional leaders, and come up with an answer that is sensible,” he said, also appearing on “Face the Nation.”
“I am certain the president would sit down and work in good faith to get us through this,” he added.
Even Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s vanquished 2012 presidential nominee, chimed in from the sidelines Sunday morning and urged Mr. Obama and congressional leaders to find a lasting solution.
Congress has to approve another short-term spending plan by March 27 or face a government shutdown, and another debate over the debt ceiling looms in May.
“I’m going to say it one more time: The president got his tax hikes on January the 1st. The issue here is spending. Spending is out of control,” Mr. Boehner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” an interview that was taped Friday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, echoed those sentiments on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He said no Republican is “willing to raise a dime in taxes to turn off the sequester.”View Entire Story
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Ben Wolfgang is a national reporter for The Washington Times. Before coming to the Times, he spent four years as a political reporter in Pennsylvania. His focus is on education and science policy. Ben lives in southeast D.C. and has played guitar in several bands while still in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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