Biden's deficit reduction group going about as well as expected

Despite perfunctory proclamations of “progress” — Washington code for lots of talk and little action — the players appear no closer to a deal than they were after their first meeting last week. Democrats and Republicans involved in the process say it’s not clear what the president’s endgame is, much less the optimal outcome for each of the individual congressional players…

Asked beforehand whether anything concrete would come out of Tuesday’s session, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat and a member of the Biden group, said, “Oh, no.” In a brief interview with POLITICO, Clyburn indicated he’s not even sure what the scope or shape of the negotiations are, saying the group is there to figure out a “framework” for scaling back the nation’s annual deficit, which the Congressional Budget Office projects at about $1.5 trillion this year and a cumulative $7.8 trillion over the next 10 years.

“We don’t know where the White House stands, and we don’t know where the Senate stands, at least from the Democratic perspective,” said a senior GOP aide briefed on the negotiations. “We don’t know if we have to cross the Grand Canyon or cross the Potomac.”

If those who are party to the talks are hopeful, at best, the outsiders are downright skeptical.

“It will be historic, but it will be meaningless,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who is not involved in the negotiations.