White House and Congressional negotiators enter their eighth week of deficit reduction talks, aiming for a tentative deal by July 1. Last week, in a rare statement about the closed door meetings, Vice President Biden told reporters: “There are differences that are going to have to be bridged, and it won’t occur until the end. And the really tough stuff that’s left are the big-ticket items.” These big ticket items are widely believed to include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that if negotiators cannot reach a deal on making changes to entitlement programs in the coming week, a shorter-term debt ceiling increase might be an option. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on the same day said that he hopes the Biden talk participants can agree “at least on a short-term budget agreement that leads to passing the debt ceiling ahead of time.”