Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama Open to Short-Term Deal on Debt Ceiling. Here Are Five Ideas

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama Open to Short-Term Deal on Debt Ceiling. Here Are Five Ideas

Article excerpt

The scramble on Capitol Hill to come up with a solution to the nation's debt crisis produced a surprise announcement from the White House Wednesday: Contrary to previous statements, President Obama would support a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney added an important caveat, however. The president would only sign the short-term deal if it was a means to buy time to finalize a longer-term deal without running afoul of the Aug. 2 deadline. Suddenly, Washington is awash in prospects for short term deals. Here are five:

The scramble on Capitol Hill to come up with a solution to the nation's debt crisis produced a surprise announcement from the White House Wednesday: Contrary to previous statements, President Obama would support a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney added an important caveat, however. The president would only sign the short-term deal if it was a means to buy time to finalize a longer-term deal without running afoul of the Aug. 2 deadline.

Suddenly, Washington is awash in prospects for short term deals. Here are five:

#5 Short-term fix, long-term deal

This is the president's new line in the sand: He'll back a short- term fix only to buy time for longer-term reform.

The new framework requires first that both sides "agree to something significant, then take the time needed to finalize details," Mr. Carney said on Wednesday. But there can be no extension without "a firm, committed agreement on something big," he added.

By short term, the White House means days, not weeks or months.

#4 'Gang of Six' lite

The draft plan released on Tuesday by the "Gang of Six" senators revived hopes that a bipartisan "grand bargain" was still possible. The draft plan aims to cut $3.7 trillion over the next decade, including cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and more than $1 trillion in increased tax revenues.

The plan will take months to fully implement, but elements could be lifted for a short-term fix, says Sen. Kent Conrad (D) of North Dakota, chair of the Senate Budget Committee and a member of the Gang of Six. These include a $500 billion "downpayment" on spending cuts that could be grafted on a short-term fix to raise the debt limit.

"The complete plan that we've put forward could not be finished in just a matter of weeks, because you are not going to reform the entire tax system of the United States in a matter of weeks, that's going to take months and months and months," he told reporters on Wednesday.

#3 Fast track the McConnell plan

Senate leaders are continuing work on a plan proposed last week by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky.

In the short term, his plan allows the president to request a $2.5 trillion hike in the debt limit in three stages, each requiring a list of spending cuts at least as high as the requested increase in the debt limit. …

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