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Deficit Panel Tries Working in a Bubble

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Rep. Jeb Hensarling and Sen. Patty Murray, co-chairmen of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, speak with reporters after a breakfast meeting of the Committee on Thursday.

From the vantage of the super committee, the more generic Obama is, the better. For as much as the panel's members consider the president's offering, they will have an easier time getting Republicans on board with what might be bipartisan ideas if those concepts are not considered to be owned by Obama. The fewer details the president lays out publicly, the wider open he leaves the door for the group's Republicans who are already in a tight spot but so far are demonstrating a willingness to find agreement to negotiate.

During his address in the House chamber earlier this month, Obama hinted at what his plan might entail.

"I'll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run," Obama said Sept. 8.

"This approach is basically the one I've been advocating for months," Obama added. "In addition to the trillion dollars of spending cuts I've already signed into law, it's a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making additional spending cuts, by making modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid and by reforming our tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share."

At the time Obama delivered his speech, many Republicans in the House and Senate were slow to outright reject his jobs proposals, instead sending signals to the White House that they would be willing to move pieces of his proposals such as payroll tax cuts for employees and employers. In turn, the White House signaled an openness to signing into law any chunks they send him.

If the president were to be "presented with parts of his plan, his instinct would be not to reject things he favored, but to come back and keep fighting and fighting to get the entire program," top economic adviser Gene Sperling told a roundtable of reporters last week.

The super committee is slated to hold its next public hearing Thursday, but lawmakers have begun to meet behind closed doors more frequently, with full and intraparty sessions held last week.

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