The bipartisan “Congressional team that President Obama proposed this week to negotiate a long-term debt-reduction plan with the White House is shaping up to be smaller and less ambitious than he spelled out – that is, if it gets off the ground at all,” the New York Times reports.
Mr. Obama on Wednesday asked the House and Senate leaders of both parties to name four members each – a total of 16 – to begin meeting in May with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and to try to agree to a deficit-cutting plan on spending and taxes by the end of June. The intent is to have a plan by early July so Congress could consider it.
But on Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat of Nevada, is expected to name just two Democrats, both committee chairmen averse to major parts of the debt-reduction effort – Max Baucus of Montana, the head of the Senate Finance Committee, who, like Mr. Reid, has said he will not support any changes in Social Security, and Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, who as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee is protective of annual spending for domestic and military programs.
The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, told Mr. Obama at the White House on Wednesday that a 17-member group would be too large to be constructive, and he is considering naming just one Senate Republican instead of four, Republicans say. One said that he is considering naming Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the number-two Republican in the Senate who, like many Republicans, adamantly refuses to consider raising taxes for high-income Americans, as Mr. Obama has proposed.