Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner said the debt limit would not be raised without “real spending cuts.”
“It is time to start talking about trillions” of dollars in cuts, he said on Capitol Hill.
The two sides could find common ground on some areas to cut, such as crop subsidies, but other areas are likely to prove contentious.
Congress took the government to the brink of a shutdown last month in what was seen as the first of many tough budget battles. Republicans won the largest domestic -spending cut in history, but Democrats who are concerned about the fragile economy managed to minimize the immediate impact of the deal.
Analysts warn the US cannot afford to postpone action to curb growth in entitlement spending costs.
“I don’t think another election is going to help, why should it? If we put this off until 2013, it doesn’t get easier, it gets harder,” said Alice Rivlin at the Brookings Institution, who sat on several deficit-reduction commissions.
A bipartisan group of six senior senators — the so-called Gang of Six — is separately pursuing discussions to structure a deal, although it has yet to publish a plan.
The Gang of Six members concede they will become “irrelevant” if they do not come up with their own bipartisan plan soon. They were widely expected to unveil their proposals this week but that has been postponed until at least next week.