Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), saying he was looking for common ground with Democrats, suggested an initiative to cut waste, fraud and abuse from safety-net programs….
Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) agreed. “There’s a lot of fraud and waste in Medicare and Medicaid which we don’t attack,” he said….
Rather, Mr. Elmendorf said, the government has several options, none of them easy: scaling back entitlement programs, raising revenues, significantly cutting non-entitlement spending, or some combination.
In case that wasn’t enough, Mr. Elmendorf warned the committee members they have less time than they might think. The committee’s deadline is Nov. 23 to produce a deficit-cutting proposal, but for Congress to consider it, the Congressional Budget Office must estimate how much it would cut the deficit, and that will take several weeks.
So not only does the 12-member committee need to bridge enormous gaps between the two parties that have defied agreement for years, but Mr. Elmendorf told them, “Your decision needs to be mostly made by the beginning of November.”