WASHINGTON - The White House and key lawmakers are considering reductions in student-loan subsidies, farm payments and support for federal workers' pensions as they search for cuts that can clear the way for an increase in the national debt limit, according to officials in both parties.
The negotiations, led by Vice President Joe Biden, are still in the early stages, with no final decisions made, these officials said yesterday.
"We're talking [about cuts totaling] $200 billion, $150 billion and we have to get up into the trillion range or more," said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., one of six other lawmakers taking part in the talks at Blair House across the street from the White House.
"We have a long way to go if
we're struggling at this level with this amount," he said, adding that so far, the talks have generally focused on areas of agreement.
The group has yet to discuss military spending or deeper reductions in programs that already were trimmed in legislation that narrowly averted a partial government shutdown in April.
Any discussion about savings from Social Security, Medicare and possibly Medicaid is likely to be set aside for President Obama and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to handle.