This is now the gang of senators working with Obama to revive his tired vision of a grand bargain. They include Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH), Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson (GA), Bob Corker (TN), Lindsey Graham (SC), John Hoeven (ND), Richard Burr (NC), and of course, John McCain (AZ).
At least a dozen Republican senators are regularly meeting with President Obama’s top aides in an attempt to plot a way forward on the looming fiscal challenges facing leaders this fall, senators involved in the meetings tell National Journal. [...]That offer also includes the chained CPI Social Security cut. If there's good news in this, it's the same as has always been on the grand bargain: The crazies in the House will remain adamantly opposed. The bad news is obvious: President Obama still sees offering up Medicare and Social Security as the sacrifice to compromise a valid option.
“Everybody's trying to assess whether we can accomplish something that would be big,” said Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, who has attended the meetings. “Big is reforming entitlements and it’s impossible to see a path where you get additional revenue without tax reform being part of it.”
This fall, the country will hit its debt limit and be unable to pay its bills unless Congress authorizes additional borrowing. Republicans plan to use the debate over raising the debt limit to force Democrats to cut spending—a negotiation Obama has said he won’t engage in. But these meetings demonstrate that the president is in fact engaging Republicans in a broader discussion about debt and spending. [...]
An administration official said White House aides have made clear to Republicans that the president’s offer from December—including $600 billion in new tax revenue for $400 billion in Medicare and other health care cuts—still stands.