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With clock ticking, lawmakers resume debt discussions

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: President Obama said today there could be another global financial crisis if Congress fails to raise the national debt ceiling. Lawmakers are feeling the pressure of an August deadline, or risk a possible default on its debt. A lot of folks think politicians will compromise eventually but there’s likely to be a lot of debating and wheeling and dealing before any deal gets done. This week is turning out to be a great example of all that.

Marketplace’s Jeff Horwich is with us to explain. Good morning Jeff.

JEFF HORWICH: Good morning Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: So what is happening this week?

HORWICH: Well, you know how citizens like to say, “Why don’t we just lock ’em in a room until they figure it out?” Well, this week is sort of close. There’s the Group of Five, these senators from both parties who say they’re going to forge a plan. Well, they’re still at it. And now you’ve got the Biden Group as well — Vice President Biden and six lawmakers who are meeting three times this week — talking taxes, which is always an easy topic. And then there’s a big event in D.C. today that I guess you could call the Group of 16 — a bunch of heavy-hitters in a roundtable trying to make some progress.

CHIOTAKIS: Sixteen? Give me some of the biggest names involved there?

HORWICH: Yeah these aren’t just talking heads. These are real players in the debate. You’ve got House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Gene Sperling, director of the President’s National Economic Council, former senator Alan Simpson, who put out this drastic long-term budget plan. Former Congressman Tim Penny is a chair of the group putting this thing on.

TIM PENNY: By getting all these powerful budgeteers in the same room, we think we’re helping to build those relationships, we’re helping to get ideas on the table.

The really interesting addition to the group is Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Diane Lim Rogers is with the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan think tank focusing on budget.

DIANE LIM ROGERS: I think Bernanke is there to impress upon the audience that we need to get our act together, we need to make sure we are not playing around with our financial security.

So for three hours this afternoon one would hope they might actually make some sort of progress.

CHIOTAKIS: We’re going to see. All right Marketplace’s Jeff Horwich, reporting for us this morning. Jeff, thanks.

HORWICH: You’re welcome Steve.

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