With time growing short and warnings more dire, the first, fragile signs emerged Thursday of a possible compromise to raise the nation's debt limit and avert a potentially catastrophic default on Aug. 2.
Under a plan discussed by the Senate's top two leaders, President Barack Obama would receive enhanced authority to raise the debt ceiling at the same time procedures would be set in motion that could lead to federal spending cuts.
Word that Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky were at work on the fallback plan came as Obama and congressional leaders held a fifth straight day of debt-crisis talks at the White House.
Whatever choice was made, it was clear time was running out.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met privately at the Capitol with Senate Democrats, emerging to say: "We have no way to give Congress more time to solve this problem."
So the alarms covered a broad front: Geithner is a senior official in the Obama administration, Bernanke is the nation's central banker and Dimon the head of one of Wall Street's best-known firms.
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