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Party intransigence dims hopes for "grand bargain"

Charles Babington, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The partisan cease-fire that kept the government running this spring gave birth to hopeful talk of a much larger "grand bargain" that would reduce the federal deficit for years.

But such optimism seems to ignore how far apart the two parties remain on key issues.

The mutual obstinance disappoints those who felt top Republicans and Democrats were close to a major accord on spending cuts and tax increases in December.

GOP leaders now say further tax increases are off the table.

And Democrats say President Barack Obama cannot push to trim Medicare and Social Security without the higher taxes on the wealthy that he campaigned for.