GOP leaders last week said they would seek about $20 billion in Medicare spending cuts above the $100 billion offered in the Clinton administration budget, but White House negotiators said Republicans would have to make concessions in other areas first.
The two sides also discussed Medicaid reform, and afterward Republican opposition to the White House Medicaid plan appeared to have intensified.
Before opening budget talks with the White House, Republican budget leaders had set last Friday as the make or break deadline for negotiations. But as the Friday deadline passed, both sides said they remained optimistic and agreed to continue their talks into this week.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said in order to reach a deal the White House would have to agree to up to $130 billion in Medicare spending reductions from fiscal 1998 through 2002. Domenici's House counterpart, Rep. John Kasich (R-Ohio), set the figure at $115 billion to $120 billion.
But Franklin Raines, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the Clinton administration's offer to reduce projected Medicare spending by $100 billion over five years represented "a lot of movement already."
Raines added that before considering more Medicare cuts, the White House wanted Republicans to make concessions in other unnamed areas.
"We would like to see some other movement (by the GOP) before we give a thought to moving further," Raines said.
Democrats appear to be split on how to react to the GOP call for more cuts. Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, said many Democrats "think we have gone too far already."
However, many conservative Democrats said they could support a higher level of reductions.