They spent the weekend blaming each other for the $85 billion in sequestration cuts that began taking effect Friday â€” but top Democrats and Republicans were careful Sunday to keep the door open to a breakthrough deal on the federal budget.
Both sides claimed to find the sequestration abhorrent, but leaders from both parties stressed Sunday that they now have an opportunity to find the â€œbig dealâ€ â€” one that tackles politically treacherous territory such as entitlement reform and an overhaul of the tax code â€” that has eluded Washington for the past two years.
â€œWe can do the big deal if we have some leadership,â€ said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, speaking on CBSâ€˜ â€œFace the Nation.â€ â€œIâ€™m not going to do any more small deals.â€
Like virtually all other Republicans, Mr. Graham said he absolutely will not accept tax rate hikes to solve the sequestration mess, which both parties agree is not the ideal way to cut federal spending.
But Mr. Graham said he is open to the type of major agreement that would raise about $600 billion in revenue by closing tax loopholes and eliminating deductions. That money, he said, then could be put toward reforming Medicare and other entitlement programs.
The two sides have until the end of this month to achieve such a deal. The resolution funding federal government operations expires at the end of March, meaning yet another showdown, this time to avoid a Washington shutdown, is right around the corner.
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