Obama, GOP diverge on budget

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WASHINGTON — House Republicans are staking out stark differences with Democrats as they prepare to meet with President Barack Obama for talks over the budget impasse, while Obama is conceding that a political accommodation may be impossible.

On one hand, many Republicans who long have chided Obama for failing to engage their party on the nation’s biggest problems are applauding his newfound outreach — part of a concerted effort by the president to mend ties with Congress in hopes of reaching a grand compromise on fiscal issues.

On the other hand, neither side is backing down from entrenched positions that have prevented deals in the past — a status quo scenario that Obama acknowledged could preclude any agreement.

The issues separating the two parties are the same as they have been all along — fundamental disagreements over whether to pair tax increases with budget cuts in an effort to rein in the nation’s deficit.

Ryan and House Republicans put forward their 2014 budget fully mindful that it would be dead on arrival at the White House and in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The plan, which the White House immediately panned, doubles down on longstanding Republican proposals to slash funding for programs Obama and Democrats sorely want to protect. It includes a repeal of Obama’s health care law — a major component of his legacy — and Medicare changes that would shift more of the cost to future patients.

Democrats rejected it out of hand, arguing that November’s election, in which Democrats gained seats and Obama won a second term after campaigning on the need for more revenue, showed Americans had rejected the GOP approach.

Obama has not budged from his insistence that any budget include new tax revenues — the key sticking point in February’s failed attempt to avert $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that both parties agreed made for bad policy.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats were to unveil a counterproposal today that aides said would raise taxes by almost $1 trillion and would use savings to repeal the automatic spending cuts — a nonstarter for House Republicans.

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