Obama Sounds Alarm on Debt as Senators See a Deal in Reach
New York Times 4 minutes ago
[link to www.nytimes.com
A bitterly divided Congress edged closer to a budget and debt deal on Monday, while the rest of the world braced for the possibility of a legislative failure and an economic catastrophe that could ripple through financial markets, foreign capitals, corporate boardrooms, state budget offices and the bank accounts of everyday investors.
Senate negotiators were still talking late into the afternoon, but both parties were coalescing around a plan that would lift the debt limit through Feb. 7, pass a resolution to finance the government through Jan. 15 and call for the two parties to conclude formal discussions on a long-term tax and spending plan no later than Dec. 13, according to one Senate aide briefed on the outlines of the plan.
Any provision to delay or repeal a tax on medical devices – a sticking point in the negotiations – will almost certainly be excluded from the final deal, Senate aides said. Republicans sought to have the tax eliminated or pushed back, but Democrats strongly resisted.
The deal would include a one-year delay of another tax associated with the Affordable Care Act known as the reinsurance tax, which employers pay.
Another Republican-backed measure would require tighter income verification standards for people who receive subsidies under the new health care law. Under the new guidelines, the Health and Human Services secretary would have to certify that the department can verify income eligibility.
The timing of a vote – which seems likely to come right up against Thursday, the date the Treasury has said the country will exhaust its borrowing authority – is unclear. If, for instance, Democrats and Republicans shake hands on a deal on Monday and Mr. Reid is able to get consent from all of the Republicans, a vote could occur within hours; if any senator objects, however, the earliest a vote could occur is Friday.
Democrats would like to bring any deal to the floor for a vote on Wednesday. Passing the plan on Wednesday, aides say, would not only avert the possibility of a devastating fiscal default, but would also put pressure on the Republican-controlled House to pass whatever bill the Senate sends over, or risk being blamed for a debt default.
Shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday, Mr. Reid and Mr. McConnell spoke on the Senate floor and made their most upbeat remarks yet about the progress of their talks.
“I’m very optimistic that we will reach an agreement that’s reasonable in nature this week,” Mr. Reid said, using unusually warm terms to describe Mr. McConnell. “I deeply appreciate my friend the minority leader for his diligent efforts to come to an agreement.”
more at url
[link to www.nytimes.com