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Budget compromise seems far off

WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders showed few signs of compromise in their ongoing budget battle Sunday, with Republican and Democratic leaders publicly accusing one another of not being serious about crafting a responsible federal spending plan quickly.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said President Obama and congressional Democrats do not appear willing to make the deep cuts necessary to control the country's deficit spending. McConnell, who spoke Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," said he is "not optimistic" about the two sides tackling major budget matters, including expensive entitlement programs.

Meanwhile, Democrats accused the Republican-controlled House of proposing "reckless" cuts in a small sliver of the budget — slashing deeply into domestic discretionary programs for education and energy research — but leaving stand a much larger portion of the budget, including defense spending.

"I think it's an ideological, extremist, reckless statement," Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said of the House proposal earlier on "Face the Nation." "If that were to be in fact put in place, it would contribute to the reversal of our recovery. It might even destroy our recovery."

Just a few days ago, lawmakers averted a government shutdown and bought more time for negotiation. Obama signed a measure to fund the government for two more weeks, until March 18. So far, Republicans proposed $61 billion in cuts from current spending levels while Democrats have proposed an estimated $10.5 billion in cuts.

On Saturday, Obama said he was willing to make further spending cuts.

McConnell said he thought the White House was "in denial" about the long-term unfunded debts the country is racking up in programs such as Social Security. He said that with a Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate, now is a perfect political moment for both sides to tackle a growing fiscal problem.

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