The bipartisan team of negotiators working with Vice President Joseph Biden to cut federal spending wants to develop a package to cut $4 trillion over a decade. The Vice President says it has to be real with a down payment and a believable path to getting to that $4 trillion figure. The Vice President says that so far some of the tentative horse-trading involved focuses on cutting smaller deals that are contingent on reaching a larger deal on tougher items like revenue. Negotiators will meet four times this week.
House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., says the talks still have a long way to go and it's not yet clear whether they can bridge the gap that exists between the two sides. Democrats continue to say that a larger deal must include revenue and Van Hollen says he was encouraged that Senate Republicans seem willing to do away with some tax subsidies.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is keeping close tabs on negotiations and says that the House-passed budget cuts for agriculture and nutrition will not pass in the Senate.
The Senate budget proposal is still being worked on. Senator Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, says the latest version of a fiscal 2012 Senate budget resolution would cut the deficit by some $4 trillion over a decade, largely through reliance on eliminating tax breaks. The plan calls for raising revenue by about $2 trillion through eliminating tax expenditures and a combination of cuts in government programs and the savings from reduced interest payments on the debt would reduce the deficit another $2 trillion.
The plan no longer includes a millionaire's surtax. Senator Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., threatened to block Conrad's original proposal because he said it favored the rich at the expense of the poor. Conrad backed off saying if a wide variety of loopholes that the wealthy and large corporations benefit from come to an end he can live with not having a millionaire's surtax.