Supercommittee Dems worry GOP walking away from talks

Supercommittee Democrats expressed dismay Wednesday over comments by panel co-chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) that suggested Republicans have made their final offer.

Hensarling, referring to the latest GOP proposal, said Republicans “have gone as far as we feel we can go” in an interview with CNBC.

The GOP proposal, which was rejected by Democrats, would lower tax rates while limiting tax deductions. Republicans say the proposal would raise $300 billion in new tax revenues, including $250 billion from limiting deductions, especially for wealthier households.

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“We put $250 billion of what is known as static revenue on the table, but only if we can bring down rates,” said Hensarling, who added that “any penny of increased static revenue is a step in the wrong direction.”

Supercommittee Democrats, who had dismissed the GOP offer as a giveaway to the rich that could raise middle-class taxes, pounced on Hensarling’s remarks.

“I think when people go public and say what they are willing and not willing to do, it isn’t as helpful as sitting at a table and trying to work through things,” Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said after a meeting of supercommittee Democrats on Wednesday. “I am not going to negotiate in public. I don’t think it is helpful.”

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the supercommittee’s other co-chairman, said she hopes Republicans are not walking away.

“We are working very hard to find a place we can move forward on and we hope we can do that,” she said. “We believe we can get there. I am still hopeful that the Republicans will see their way to bringing us a real revenue package.”

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) also said he hopes the GOP has not walked away.

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