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Debt Limit Battle Highlights Lost Art of Negotiating in Washington

The ongoing debt limit battle in Washington reflects a concerning trend of lost negotiation skills, according to Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

As President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy prepare for a debt ceiling meeting, MacGuineas emphasizes the importance of sensible savings and a short-term debt ceiling increase.

MacGuineas expresses her disappointment in the slow progress of conversations between the two sides, noting that it has been nearly 100 days since their last discussion.

With the knowledge that this issue has been looming for over a year, she urges both Republicans and Democrats to focus on a productive meeting that goes beyond political posturing.

MacGuineas suggests that a potential deal should include some level of savings to address the unsustainable fiscal situation.

Additionally, she advocates for separating the negotiation process from the actual lifting of the debt ceiling.

Democrats, she believes, should aim for a longer-term debt ceiling increase that extends beyond the next election and consider reforming the debt ceiling itself.

While there is room for agreement, MacGuineas warns against hardening positions, as the deadline approaches and markets become increasingly concerned.

She emphasizes that dragging out the negotiations will be detrimental to all parties involved.

Regarding the lack of a short-term or parallel deal, MacGuineas acknowledges that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is unlikely to support the President, leaving Speaker McCarthy and his caucus with the current leverage.

However, she urges them to prioritize improving the fiscal situation rather than focusing on political dynamics.

MacGuineas highlights the importance of sensible savings, citing past instances where debt ceiling increases were accompanied by savings packages to address debt problems.

She criticizes previous actions taken under President Trump, which exacerbated the debt rather than improving it.

MacGuineas suggests that Republicans should concentrate on achieving sensible savings and consider a short-term debt ceiling increase as a reasonable approach.

In conclusion, MacGuineas argues that a short-term debt ceiling increase would facilitate negotiations and suggests potential trade-offs, such as not spending unobligated COVID funds.

She emphasizes the need for a parallel track of discussions to ensure progress is made in addressing the fiscal challenges at hand.

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