Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Senate 'Gang of 8' says its moment is past in deficit talks

WASHINGTON — After years of wrangling, members of the bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight have all but given up on a deficit reduction breakthrough and now say the best they can do is offer ideas for the one fiscal negotiation that will truly matter: talks between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner that begin in earnest today.

Another fruitless meeting this week of the Senate group has only raised the pressure ahead of the White House session between the president and congressional leaders.

"It was great. We had a lot of doughnuts," said Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's second-ranking Democrat and the most powerful member of the gang that was once seen as the best hope for a budget deal that could draw support from both parties.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who has been negotiating with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said it was time to squelch such side negotiations, lest they undermine Obama and Boehner.

"There's eight individuals, well-meaning and trying to get a deal, and it shows you how hard it is," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. and an original member of the Gang of Eight, said of the apparent impasse. "And it's gotten harder after the election. As you might imagine, positions have hardened."

The efforts by such freelance negotiations were once seen as a bottom-up way to push leaders on Capitol Hill and in the White House toward the political center. But, Bennet said, time has run out. Now lawmakers from both parties say they need a solution imposed from the top.

Today Obama will meet with Boehner; Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader; Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate, to formally begin deficit negotiations. White House officials say Obama is likely to extend another invitation for next week, after he returns from a trip to Asia and before Thanksgiving.

Comments
Business owners help employees deal with emotional problems

Business owners help employees deal with emotional problems

Employers juggle competing concerns when they're dealing with employees' mental health issues
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Business owners help employees deal with emotional problems

Business owners help employees deal with emotional problems

Employers juggle competing concerns when they're dealing with employees' mental health issues
Updated: 3 minutes ago

Senate committee approves nomination of Powell for Fed chair

Senate Banking Committee approves nomination of Jerome Powell as Fed chairman for second time
Updated: 3 minutes ago

Science panel backs lower drunken driving threshold

A prestigious scientific panel is recommending states significantly lower their drunken driving threshold, saying 10,000 alcohol-impaired driving deaths a year are unacceptable and 'entirely preventable'
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Business owners help employees deal with emotional problems

Business owners help employees deal with emotional problems

Employers juggle competing concerns when they're dealing with employees' mental health issues
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Ethiopia releases top opposition figure from prison

Ethiopia releases top opposition figure from prison

Ethiopia releases top opposition figure from prison after vow to free detained politicians
Updated: 5 minutes ago

New eurogroup chief urges speed in strengthening euro

The eurozone finance ministers' new leader says Europe needs to use a "unique window of opportunity" in the coming months to strengthen the continent's common currency
Updated: 6 minutes ago

AP Top News at 10:56 a.m. EST

AP Top News at 10:56 a.m. EST
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Vegas-Lightning, of all things, is the biggest show in town

Vegas-Lightning, of all things, is the biggest show in town

TAMPAIt's Vegas night.Who would have thought we would have been circling this one on the schedule before the NHL season began?Vegas Golden Knights at Tampa Bay Lightning.We've circled it just the same.It's Vegas night.The Vegas Knight, the greatest e...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Boston Celtics great Jo Jo White dies at 71

Boston Celtics great Jo Jo White dies at 71

Basketball Hall of Famer Jo Jo White has died at 71 years old
Updated: 9 minutes ago