By Alexander Bolton - 11/09/11 10:30 PM EST
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) took a different tone than Democratic colleagues Wednesday and applauded the Republican offer to raise $300 billion in new taxes as part of a deficit-reduction deal.
Democratic members of the supercommittee on Tuesday had panned the GOP offer as insufficient.
“The fact that some Republicans have stepped forward to talk about revenue, I think, is an invitation for Democrats to step forward and talk about entitlement reform as well as spending cuts. Therein lies the core of an agreement,” Durbin said.
Durbin said he is “definitely” encouraged.
“We need to seize this opportunity; it will not come around again. And the supercommittee can produce a product that not only helps us with economic growth but restores confidence that a bipartisan majority in Congress can achieve some good things for this country,” he said.
He stressed the willingness of Republicans to discuss new net tax revenues.
"The word revenue. It is a breakthrough. And I think you have to be honest. There haven’t been many who have stepped forward," he said.
A Democratic aide said Durbin is encouraged that Republicans are finally talking about raising new tax revenues but does not endorse the Toomey plan.
Democratic members of supercommittee were decidedly less receptive Tuesday.
“I have yet to see a real, credible plan that raises revenue in a significant way to bring us to a fair, balanced proposal,” Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the Democratic co-chairwoman of the panel, told reporters, according to The Washington Post.
Democrats balked because the GOP proposal would cut the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 28.
Durbin, however, refrained from dismissing it. He said it would not be “appropriate” to talk about deal-breakers in the proposal.
“I just encourage them, stay with it. They have only a few days left,” Durbin said.
Senate GOP conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the chamber’s third-ranking Republican, said both sides must give more ground.
“My view is exactly the view Sen. Durbin expressed,” he told reporters.
“Republicans have put revenues on the table. Democrats have put entitlements on the table. They both need to put more of each on the table and get a result and the 45 of us who signed that letter are going to do our best to support their result,” Alexander said.
Durbin and Alexander are part of a bipartisan group of 45 senators and 100 lawmakers in the House pushing the supercommittee to pass a large package, in the neighborhood of $4 trillion.
“I think bigger is easier,” Durbin said. “I really believe when you’re dealing with a major change in the area of $4 trillion that you can really start putting things on the table in an honest way that you can’t when you’re at the lower end of $1.2 trillion.”
This story was posted at 12:41 p.m. and updated at 5:30 p.m.