Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he would consider cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security if they were part of a "grand bargain' that includes tax increases.
Reid defined a "grand bargain" as a plan that reduces future deficits by $4 trillion, the number used by President Barack Obama. Republican leaders oppose tax increases, so negotiators are focusing on more modest proposals.
Reid has resisted cuts to the major benefit programs, and previously said that Social Security should not be part of deficit reduction talks. He did not specifically say he would support cuts to benefits, but a plan that reduces future deficits by $4 trillion would almost certainly include some benefit reductions.
Speaking to reporters after a luncheon, Reid said he would consider a new plan by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to give Obama sweeping new powers to increase the nation's debt limit to avoid a first-ever default on U.S. obligations.