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U.S. budget panel may take only 'small steps' -Treasury's Mazur

Friday, 1 Nov 2013 | 6:01 PM ET

WASHINGTON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - A senior U.S. Treasury Department official on Friday said modest achievements may be all that can be expected from a congressional panel tasked with finding federal budget compromises by Dec. 13.

"Obviously hope springs eternal," said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur at an investment summit. "But again it may just be some small steps that are confidence building that allow you to take bigger steps later."

The 29-member panel was commissioned under a deal to end last month's government shutdown and lift the federal debt limit. Its members hope to agree on a plan that would at least reduce the effects of $109 billion in spending cuts looming in 2014.

While the Obama administration and members of Congress agree the tax code needs to be reformed, Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on how to do that. "At this point, it's really just a matter of politics," Mazur said.