By Mike Lillis - 11/02/11 04:04 PM EDT
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer conceded Wednesday that there's scant
faith in the new congressional supercommittee to reach a bipartisan
budget agreement by its looming Nov. 23 deadline.
But the Maryland Democrat also argued that the pessimism would play to the country's advantage if the panel defies the low expectations and forges a deal.
"Expectations for the success of the supercommittee are low," Hoyer said, echoing comments he made last week. "That is good and bad news. It is good news to the extent that if they succeed, as I hope they will, … they will exceed greatly expectations that will therefore create much greater confidence in the economy and, internationally, in our country."
The remarks come amid growing speculation that deep-seated partisanship will prevent the panel from reaching a deal to cut deficit spending by at least $1.2 trillion over a decade before the coming deadline.
During a public hearing of the supercommittee Tuesday, Erskine Bowles — who headed President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform — said he had little confidence in the panel's prospects for success.
"I have great respect for each of you individually, but collectively, I'm worried you're going to fail — fail the country," Bowles said.
Hoyer said he's been in recent talks with the House Democrats on the deficit panel — Reps. James Clyburn (S.C.), Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (Md.) — all of whom "continue to believe that all 12 members are desirous of getting to agreement."
"That does not mean they're all for [a] $4 trillion [deal], it doesn't mean they're all for putting everything on the table – I understand that," Hoyer added. "But I think they understand that sequestration is failure."
The Democratic whip pointed out that an extension of the deadline is possible, but said the panel can't take that step unilaterally.
"They can't vote to extend it," he said. "They can recommend to the Congress that they extend it."