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"Pretty clear" what debt compromise will need: White House

House Speaker John Boehner departs the Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington
House Speaker John Boehner departs the Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Thursday it was "pretty clear" what a compromise between Republicans and Democrats would look like to reduce the deficit and lift the debt ceiling by an August 2 deadline.

White House press secretary Jay Carney also said a sweeping "grand bargain" to cut the deficit by up to $4 trillion over 10 years remained on the table, although he acknowledged that it did not have strong chances of advancing before Tuesday's deadline.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top congressional Republican, sketched out $3.5 to $4 trillion in deficit cuts in secret negotiations that broke down Friday when Boehner pulled out over Obama's demands on tax revenues.

"That deal is on the table. If there is the political will to make it happen, it could happen before August 2nd," Carney told reporters.

"If that isn't possible before August 2nd ... what a compromise looks like is pretty clear: significant deficit reduction; a mechanism by which Congress would take on the tough issues of tax reform and entitlement reform; and a lifting of the debt ceiling ... into 2013," he told reporters.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have deadlocked over how to cut the deficit and lift the country's $14.3 trillion debt limit to prevent a default and possible downgrade in the top-notch AAA U.S. credit rating.

Each side is pursuing its own legislation, with the House, which Republicans control, expected to vote later Thursday on a bill put forward by Boehner, who was still trying to round up votes to pass the measure.

Democrats say they will not allow it to pass the Senate, which they control, and where Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is pursuing his own bill.

The White House supports Reid but says it is continuing to talk intensively to lawmakers to ensure that the debt limit is raised on time and a default avoided.

"Our primary objective here has to be to protect the economy and protect the American people from economic harm. So if everyone has that objective ... in mind as we move forward, compromise is pretty easy," Carney said.

(Reporting by Alister Bull, Tabassum Zakaria, Laura MacInnis and Caren Bohan, Editing by Vicki Allen)

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