(LOS ANGELES TIMES) WASHINGTON — A top Democrat pressured fellow progressives Tuesday to consider long-term changes to the social safety net, even as the party digs in for a fight to save Medicare and other government programs from deep budget cuts.

As closed-door talks continue with the hope of a year-end deal, President Obama will travel to a Pennsylvania toy store this week to pressure Congress to extend the expiring tax cuts for the middle class, while letting those for the wealthiest 2% of Americans expire. Republicans are similarly taking their proposal of tax breaks for all on the road.

At the same time, Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, tapped his ties to the liberal wing of the party to urge a broader deficit deal in 2013 that would include trims to Medicare and other entitlement cuts.

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