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White House pushes for progress on debt talks as senators float new Medicare proposal

June 28, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro | Washington Bureau
  • Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), shown here at a May hearing, introduced a new proposal along with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to try to move along debt-limit negotiations.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), shown here at a May hearing, introduced a… (Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)

Reporting from Washington — Senate Democratic leaders are headed to the White House on Wednesday to meet with President Obama as he seeks to break the stalemate with Republicans on debt reduction talks.

Negotiations are at a standstill with just weeks to go to raise the nation’s $14.3-trillion debt limit or risk what financial experts say would be a devastating federal default. Treasury officials say they will be unable to pay the nation’s bills by Aug. 2.

Republicans want to extract steep spending cuts in exchange for their vote to allow more borrowing capacity. Democrats want to reduce tax loopholes on corporations and wealthy Americans to raise new revenue, a proposition the GOP has refused.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan pair of senators introduced a proposal that would cut the costs of Medicare a main driver of budget deficits — by gradually increasing the eligibility age to 67 and requiring wealthier seniors to pay more out of pocket for premiums and care.

The proposal from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) reflects the growing anxiety among lawmakers over the slow progress in debt talks. It is likely to face opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.

Obama jumped into talks this week after negotiations being led by Vice President Joe Biden dissolved last week when Republicans dropped out over the tax question. Biden will join Wednesday’s talks at the White House.

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