–Retransmitting Story Published 13:54 ET Wednesday
–But Senate Minority Whip Kyl Says It’s Unclear If It’s ‘Realisitic’
–Sen. Kyl: ‘We’re Making Progress,’ But Hard Work Remains
–Rep. Van Hollen: Had ‘Useful Discussion’ In Wednesday Talks
–Vice President Biden Leaves Capitol Without Comment After Talks

By John Shaw

WASHINGTON (MNI) – Vice President Joe Biden left the Capitol
Wednesday afternoon without speaking to reporters after concluding the
second round of budget talks this week.

But his comment Tuesday evening about working for a deficit
reduction agreement by the end of June was affirmed by a key Republican

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl left the talks Wednesday agreeing that
a budget agreement by the end of June is the “goal” of the talks. But he
added that it remains unclear if it’s a “realistic goal.”

“We’re making progress,” Kyl said. “Everyone is talking in good
faith,” he said.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget
Committee, left the meeting with a generally positive assessment.

“We had a useful discussion,” Van Hollen said of the Wednesday
meeting, adding that it focused on crafting “a mechanism that ensures
deficit reduction.”

The Biden talks Wednesday focused on budget triggers to control
deficits and spending.

Van Hollen also said that a budget agreement by the end of June was
“the goal,” but said it is not a firm deadline.

When he left the budget talks Tuesday evening, Biden said his group
is trying to wrap up a budget agreement by the end of June in the hope
of presenting a package to President Obama and congressional leaders
before the 4th of July congressional recess.

The vice president said he is “convinced” the White House and
Congress will able to reach an agreement on a deficit reduction plan
that leads to $4 trillion in savings over 10 to 12 years.

Biden said there is already an agreement in the talks on “well
beyond” $1 trillion in savings.

The Biden talks are seeking a deficit reduction package that can
be developed to coincide with this summer’s vote on debt ceiling

The U.S. has already reached its $14.29 trillion debt ceiling.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said that Congress must pass
legislation increasing the debt ceiling by August 2.

Biden is negotiating with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Kyl,
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Dan Inouye, Senate Finance
Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Assistant House Minority Leader Jim
Clyburn and Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

The administration is represented by Biden, Treasury Secretary Tim
Geithner, White House budget director Jack Lew and the director of the
National Economic Council Gene Sperling.

At a budget conference Tuesday, Maya MacGuineas, president of the
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said she believes that
financial markets will examine any budget accord by looking beneath the
“headline” deficit reduction number and search for specific changes in
entitlement programs to ensure their rate of growth will be slowed.

She said that budget baselines can be used creatively to show large
deficit reduction numbers, but added that it is most important for an
agreement to change the structure of programs that are causing budget

** Market News International Washington Bureau: (202) 371-2121 **

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