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Negotiators looking for only a small budget deal
WASHINGTON (AP) - Forget a grand bargain. Reaching even a small budget deal will be a challenge.
That's the early assessment from lawmakers and others as budget talks gear up in hopes of salvaging some agreement after this month's shutdown debacle and debt limit crisis.
Longstanding differences over taxes make a large-scale deal virtually impossible. Republicans say they won't agree to further taxes atop the 10-year, $600 billion-plus increase on upper-income earners that President Barack Obama and Democrats won in January. Without higher taxes, Democrats say they're unwilling to cut benefit programs like Medicare.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan told The Associated Press on Thursday he's still hopeful the talks will produce a smaller deal, perhaps one that eases immediate automatic spending cuts in exchange for trimming the growth of benefit programs.