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Is American fiscal deadlock about to end?

world Updated: Oct 12, 2013 02:25 IST
Yashwant Raj

The White House and congressional Republicans continued to look for a deal to end the impasse over a debt ceiling as the government shutdown entered its 11th day.

President Barack Obama is holding discussions with Senate Republicans on Friday after a meeting with House Republicans ob Thursday that both sides described as constructive.

Republicans have suggested a short-term increase in the debt ceiling and Obama is pushing for an end to the shutdown as a pre-condition to the deal.

The talks failed to break the deadlock. But AP news agency is now reporting that House Republicans have offered another to raise the debt limit, and end the shutdown, in return for replacing the across-the-board spending cuts introduced earlier in the year a part of the sequester, with curbs in benefit programmes.

Some of these programmes are back by Obama, such as a plan to raise the cost of Medicare for better-off beneficiaries.

This deal was reportedly hammered out by White House officials with congressional aides overnight. But there was no word yet on whether it has been approved.

Meanwhile, polls show Republicans continue to be blamed the most for the current impasse — by 53% of those surveyed in a WSJ/NBC poll published Thursday evening.
Congress, under US law, must approve an increase to the federal debt limit so the government can pay its bills.

Normally, this is routine, but Republicans had been insisting on cuts and changes to Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul law and other programmes as the price for reopening government and extending the debt limit past next Thursday’s deadline.

Boehner’s offer indicates some movement away from that strategy, but Republicans claimed victory on one front, noting that they were in negotiations with a president who had said repeatedly there would be none until the government was open and default prevented.