Talks continue in Washington as the Obama administration and congressional leaders race to finalize an agreement on raising the federal debt ceiling. On Wednesday, the White House acknowledged for the first time it could accept a short-term hike to the deficit ceiling to extend the August 2 deadline by a few days. President Obama met with Republican leaders on Wednesday night with a plan to cut as much as $4 trillion in federal spending back into play. Obama is now backing a bipartisan Senate budget plan that would overhaul Social Security and Medicare, while cutting taxes on the wealthy. In addition to entitlement cuts, the so-called "Gang of Six" plan would eliminate a number of popular tax breaks and deductions, including write-offs for home mortgage interest and employer-provided health benefits. The savings would help offset the cost of then lowering the top individual and corporate tax rates from 35 percent to at least 29 percent. Speaking on the Senate floor, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont mockingly congratulated Republicans for President Obama’s apparent willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: "[Republicans] have stood firm in their desire to represent the wealthy and the powerful and multinational corporations. They have threatened. They have been very smart in a number of ways. They have been determined. And at the end of the day, they will get 80 or 90 percent of what they want. That is their victory, and I congratulate them on their victory. Unfortunately, their victory will be a disaster for working families in this country, for the elderly, for the sick, for the children, and for low-income people."