A senior White House official is disputing a key, but vague, detail in a weekend Washington Post article, which provided a number of new details about the final days of President Obama’s unsuccessful attempt last summer to strike a grand bargain to stabilize the national debt with House Speaker John Boehner.
The two principals were nearing a framework that would have included higher tax revenues, unpopular cuts to Medicare and other spending reductions when the talks failed. That resulted in the debt limit deal and the ongoing fight between the parties over the federal safety net and taxes on the wealthy.
One of the Post’s new details alarmed progressives.
“White House officials said this week that the offer is still on the table,” the Post reported.
At a Tuesday background briefing for reporters, a senior administration official, who would not agree to be named or quoted, took issue with that and other details in the piece.
There’s a sense in which both the Post and the White House might actually be in agreement. The Post doesn’t specify what their unnamed source meant by “the offer.” As the senior official noted in Tuesday’s briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building many of the issues Obama and Boehner tried to tackle were addressed by the discretionary spending caps in the debt limit deal. A renewed push for a grand bargain would have to reflect that.
As the same senior administration official told me earlier this month, the White House could support a broad deficit reduction bill if Republicans in Congress would yield on revenues. But they see no evidence that the GOP’s position has changed.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.