'U.S. budget negotiators are near a deal to ease automatic spending cuts that congressional aides say could boost user fees rather than end corporate tax breaks.
Negotiators are "down to the last few items," said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of a 29-member committee aiming to reach an agreement by Dec. 13 that sets federal spending levels for this year and next. Both parties are "careful to say they don't have a deal," Cole said.
"It's not the grand bargain but it's a workable deal," Cole said today after a meeting of Republicans who control the House. "In this environment, that's something to be proud of."
Cole said the deal would probably cap spending at about $1 trillion, instead of $967 billion, through mandatory spending cuts known as sequestration and endorsed by House Republicans. Democrats set a $1.058 trillion cap in their plan.
Lawmakers from both parties doubt the possible budget deal would have the votes to pass Congress. Democrats have insisted that Republicans agree to end at least some corporate tax breaks to reach a deal while Republicans probably will balk at a spending levels than exceeds a 2011 budget compromise.'
We need to keep the sequester at its planned levels. If we open it to negotiation, the planned cuts will end.
We need to be asking for more cuts, to increase the debt ceiling.