November 21, 2017

Deficit Talks Resuming, but Few Sound Hopeful

The two sides had said they would meet during the August recess, but the gathering will be the first in that time and is intended to take stock before Congress reconvenes in September. Neither side expressed optimism in interviews, with talks snagged on the same issues that killed past bipartisan efforts: Republicans’ demands for deeper Medicare cuts and President Obama’s insistence that they, in return, agree to higher taxes on the wealthy and some corporations.

The apparent lack of progress after months of intermittent meetings suggests that the effort could soon be sidelined, if not ended, as the president and Congress turn to the more pressing work of negotiating measures to finance the government and increase the nation’s borrowing limit before October deadlines. Without the spending measures, the government would shut down on Oct. 1; without a higher debt limit, the nation would be unable to pay bills after mid-October and would risk another financial crisis.

The goal when the bipartisan meetings began last winter, with Mr. Obama inviting Republicans to dinner after his second inauguration, was to agree on a multiyear fiscal deal before the fall that could ease efforts to pass annual spending bills and increase the debt limit. Now it is probably too late.

Even so, the discussion with the group of senators “is the only game in town right now,” said an administration official, who declined to be identified in speaking about the delicate talks. “I don’t know that they will be the final deciders at the end of the day. It might have to be a group that rises out of the House,” where Republicans have a majority.

The group includes eight Republicans who generally have not been central to the budget debates of the past three years, and are not members of either the Senate leadership or the key committees for spending and taxes. Mr. Obama turned to them, and others, after Republican leaders — Speaker John A. Boehner in the House and the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, who is facing a re-election fight in Kentucky — made clear that after three years of budget battles, dead ends and partial compromises, they were finished negotiating with the president.

The Republicans now engaged with the White House include Senators Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Bob Corker of Tennessee, John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Dan Coats of Indiana.

Initially, optimists on both sides suggested that the group would bring a fresh approach, as would two newcomers on Mr. Obama’s side — his chief of staff for the second term, Denis R. McDonough, and new budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. But the Republican participants’ lack of institutional clout or following in the Senate have proved a handicap, and they have not proposed their own deficit-reduction outline in response to the one Mr. Obama put forward in April.

Hanging over the talks is the knowledge that any agreement is likely to hit a wall in the Republican-controlled House, where the majority is determined not to compromise with Mr. Obama and where the party’s leaders have been unable to pass even their own fiscal measures over the past year.

The White House meeting will be held three days after Mr. Boehner told Idaho Republicans at a fund-raiser in Boise that “we’re going to have a whale of a fight” over the debt limit.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew informed Congress this week that without that increase by mid-October, the nation might be unable to pay existing obligations, including Social Security benefits, troops’ pay and creditors’ interest payments — ultimately risking default.

“I wish I could tell you it was going to be pretty and polite, and it would all be finished a month before we’d ever get to the debt ceiling,” Mr. Boehner said in Idaho. “Sorry — it just doesn’t work that way.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/29/us/deficit-talks-resuming-but-few-sound-hopeful.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder: As Zucker Starts at CNN, a Familiar (and Deep) Voice Is Heard

For a channel that needs to find its voice, this was a distinctive way to start.

Fans of CNN may have noticed over the weekend that James Earl Jones’s voice is back, proclaiming “This is CNN” in his authoritative baritone. Its restoration was a symbolic first act by Jeff Zucker, the new chief executive of CNN Worldwide, whose first official day on the job was Monday.

Mr. Zucker spent the day in Washington, observing CNN’s inauguration coverage from the control room there. Tuesday will be his first day at
the channel’s New York office.

But Mr. Zucker has already been involved behind the scenes, making programming suggestions and recruiting talent, according to staff members at CNN/U.S., the flagship channel of CNN Worldwide. Mr. Zucker helped persuade Jake Tapper, the ABC White House correspondent, to join the channel in a move announced last month. And he proposed that CNN/U.S. incorporate two anchors from its sister channel HLN, Robin Meade and Christi Paul, into inauguration coverage.

At a town hall-style meeting for staff members in Washington last week, one of several that Mr. Zucker has held, he talked about legacy — specifically, that he understands and respects CNN’s 30-year legacy, but doesn’t want to be bound by it.

Bringing back James Earl Jones is an acknowledgment of that legacy. The famous, simple sound bite — “This is CNN,” paired with the channel’s big red logo — dates back more than 20 years. But it’s been a long time since the words were heard regularly on the channel.

After he was appointed president Mr. Zucker wondered why, and earlier this month he directed the marketing department to put the sound bite
back into regular rotation, a CNN spokeswoman said.

The channel subsequently renewed its licensing deal for the sound bite, and that’s why Mr. Jones’s voice was heard during some of
the commercial breaks on CNN’s inauguration coverage.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/as-zucker-starts-at-cnn-a-familiar-and-deep-voice-is-heard/?partner=rss&emc=rss