Driving the Day: What’s on the Table?

Yesterday, a group of bipartisan leaders met with Vice President Joe Biden (‘cause you don’t mess with Joe) and a host of administration officials to discuss our nation’s dangerously highly debt.  As is frequently the case, the post-meeting spin and resulting media reports are downright confusing.

Reuters: Democrats, Republicans edge closer on debt deal
Key Line: Republicans edged toward a White House plan that would cut some spending now and set long-term deficit reduction targets, but said more difficult decisions on taxes and healthcare spending would have to wait until after the 2012 election.”

Politico: Negotiators leave Biden talks hopeful
Key Line: When asked about entitlements, though, [Democrat Senator Max] Baucus said “We didn’t get into that…”

USA Today: Deficit-reduction talks sidestep Medicare, taxes
Key Line: Both sides came away…encouraged that common ground exists in the areas of less controversial spending cuts and rules to lock in savings.

CQ: Boehner Says Only Taxes Off the Table in Debt Reduction Talks (subscription req’d)
Key Line: “Nothing is off the table except raising taxes,” [Speaker John] Boehner told reporters.

The state of play is cloudy, to say the least.  Speaker Boehner has consistently said every issue is on the table, aside from tax hikes; yet, some Republicans (including those in the negotiations) appeared to indicate the more controversial issues were off the table.

If the latter is true, and controversial issues are being set aside, the prospects for real reform have been greatly reduced.  Of course, do not put it past the administration and those who favor government largess to try to narrow the scope of the negotiations.

The next meeting is schedule for Tuesday.  If you want to cut through the spin, be sure and ask your Representative and Senators if they have a plan to tackle the debt.

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