An agreement from the deficit-reduction supercommittee appears unlikely as a co-chair of the 12-member panel said that although he is not giving up hope that the group can still find $1.2 trillion in federal savings over the next 10 years, he conceded the size of the task that remains before the Nov. 23 deadline.
Supercommittee co-chairs indicate agreement unlikely by deadline
“Nobody wants to give up hope,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) told Chris Wallace, host of the “Fox News Sunday” program. “Reality is, to some extent, starting to overtake hope. There were 12 good people who invested a lot in this, trying to find common ground to reach the goal of this committee. Talks have taken place over the weekend; they will continue to take place,” he continued. “But the reality is we need to come to an agreement. We need to get it drafted. It has to be estimated by the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) by the end of Monday,” he added. “So it's a daunting challenge.”
As part of this summer's Budget Control Act, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction—composed of six Democrats and six Republicans—was given the authority to identify ways to cut at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending over the next decade by the Thanksgiving deadline. If the committee fails to meet that goal, the so-called “trigger,” or sequestration, will kick in starting in 2013. That would result in automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion over 10 years, split between domestic and defense programs. Medicare cuts would be capped at 2%.
On Sunday, Hensarling said the panel is not giving up hope, but he also said that failure to meet this task is a “huge missed opportunity.” And he was unequivocal in his view that Democrats have been unwilling to bend on cuts to the nation's federal healthcare programs.
“We all know—even the president will admit—that the great drivers of our debt are Medicare, Medicaid and healthcare—nothing comes close,” Hensarling said. “And he's right. I give him an A for courage for stating that. But, unfortunately, what we haven't seen in these talks from the other side is any Democrat willing to put a proposal on the table that actually solves the problem.
Meanwhile, on CNN's “State of the Union” program on Sunday, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the supercommittee's other co-chair, said Republicans are not willing to compromise on revenue.
“There is one sticking divide, and that is the issue of what I call shared sacrifice,” Murray said, according to a transcript of the interview. “That's the Bush tax cuts, and making sure that any kind of package includes everybody coming to the table and the wealthiest of Americans, those who earn over $1 million every year, have to share, too,” she added. “And that line in the sand, we haven't seen any Republicans willing to cross yet.”
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