The White House is denying reports, including this one, that President Obama is close to a deal with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on a debt limit/deficit reduction package comprised of concrete spending cuts, and aspirational revenue increases.
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White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer tweeted that reports of a $3 trillion deal without revenues were incorrect. "POTUS believes we need a balanced approach that includes revenues," he wrote. However, what the President believes and what he may ultimately feel compelled to sign off on are not necessarily the same. Equally, Pfeiffer's tweet would not seem to rule out the idea of "aspirational" revenues that would come at some unspecified time in the future, while coupled with cuts that could begin immediately.
With that in mind, Senate Democrats are worried. One top Dem aide explained the problem: In early negotiations that ultimately collapsed, Obama and Boehner considered passing a package of spending cuts with a promise to tackle tax reform in the coming months. But -- this is key -- a failsafe written in to the grand bargain would have decoupled most of the Bush tax cuts from those cuts benefiting only top earners. If comprehensive tax reform failed to pass this Congress, those top bracket cuts would expire.
Now, the aide says, Democrats are concerned that the White House might abandon that failsafe.
Senate Democrats just had a feisty meeting with White House budget director Jack Lew, and raised concerns about this and similar reports. And in a statement to reporters after the meeting broke Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sought out reporters to push Obama not to budge on his vow that any debt reduction plan must contain balance (read revenue).