Lines harden in debt limit talks
Bolton says Democrats' strong stance on Medicare benefits "shows that the lines are hardening in these talks," which he says is disconcerting, given that Congress and the White House only have until Aug. 2 to negotiate a deal.
"And it appears that they are quite far apart," Bolton says.
While Republicans said from the beginning they wouldn't budge in their opposition to tax increases in the deficit-reduction talks, Democrats hadn't drawn such a hard line until Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced any cuts to Medicare benefits could not be part of a deal. Bolton says this declaration "flies in the face of what Republicans have asked for."
Democrats try to move past Weiner scandal
During Reid and Schumer's press conference about Medicare and the budget deficit, they received questions again about Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who continues to be at the center of a scandal over explicit online communications. Bolton says Democrats are doing their best to move past the distraction caused Weiner, "but the media isn't entirely cooperating."
Reid was asked why he hasn't called for Weiner's resignation, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has. Reid said he didn't want to spend any more time on it.
Schumer used to represent the district Weiner now represents in the House. Bolton says Schumer was a mentor to Weiner. While he stopped short of calling for Weiner's resignation, Schumer endorsed his decision to seek treatment.
Republicans vote to eliminate ethanol tax break
Thirty-four Republicans voted for an amendment that would eliminate a $6 billion annual tax break for ethanol producers.
"That's significant because most of the Senate Republicans have signed a pledge that they would oppose any tax increase or the elimination of any tax break unless it was offset by another tax cut to cover its cost," Bolton says.
They did not uphold that pledge in voting to cut the tax break Tuesday.
"It signals that Republicans are willing to end tax breaks if they are narrow enough and if they pick winners in the marketplace," Bolton says.
Still, he says these cuts will not be nearly enough to address the deficit. Bolton says niche tax breaks like the ethanol subsidy will not come close to the $4 trillion in savings that negotiators are calling for over the next decade.