Deficit supercommittee members expected to announce failure

The supercommittee is expected to make plain on Monday that it will fall short of its deficit-reducing mandate, an outcome many in Washington have expected for days.

The panel technically has a Wednesday deadline for their deficit-reduction package — at least $1.2 trillion over a decade to avoid across-the-board cuts.

But any deal the supercommittee comes up with must also be vetted by the Congressional Budget Office – and be available to the 12 lawmakers on the committee for 48 hours prior to any vote, giving the panel an effective Monday deadline.

ADVERTISEMENT
And after a weekend in which supercommittee negotiations appeared to grind to a halt, and panel members publicly suggested the other side would be to blame for failure, there was little optimism around Washington that the committee would be able to pluck a rabbit out of its hat.

Late Sunday, Reuters reported that Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the supercommittee’s co-chairmen, would issue a statement acknowledging they had not reached a deal, unless something radically changes in the coming hours.

A congressional staffer with knowledge of the supercommittee's negotiations confirmed that was the most likely outcome, but stressed that a last-minute deal was still possible.


Earlier in the day, supercommittee members from both parties headlined Sunday news shows, expressing faint hope but little confidence that they could find $1.2 trillion in budget cuts.

In separate interviews, six supercommittee members also admitted that they had a tight window, and pledged to keep working until time had run out.

“I'm at the table. I want to solve this,” Murray said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I know Americans want us to solve this,” she added. “I remain hopeful that someone on the other side will say, this is too important to fail.”

But supercommittee members also blamed their colleagues across the aisle for the current stalemate, saying the other side had been unable to move off of long-held principles to craft a compromise.

Democrats, as they have for days, said Republicans were unable to embrace what they called a “balanced” package, in which corporations and wealthy taxpayers would contribute more revenues to eat into deficits.

“Remember, we have 1,400 multimillionaires in this country who didn't pay a single bit of income taxes in 2009,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Why should they escape participation when we're asking seniors to help cover the costs of deficits that, in the case of Social Security, they didn't even cause?”

Murray and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) also again accused Republicans of being under the thumb of anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, a charge that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), among others, has lobbed over and over again in recent weeks.

But Republicans asserted that they had thrown out a proposal, pushed by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), that included hundreds of billions of dollars of upfront revenues, something they called a major concession on their end.

Democrats on the panel ended up rejecting that GOP offer, in large part because it would have locked in the Bush-era tax cuts and pushed for even further reductions in rates.

ADVERTISEMENT
GOP supercommittee members also said on Sunday shows that Democrats had yet to put forth a plan that included serious spending cuts, especially on entitlements, that wasn't paired with large tax hikes.

“On the other side, there was an insistence that we have a trillion-dollar tax increase,” Toomey said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “There was an unwillingness to cut any kind of spending at all unless there was a huge tax increase.”

“From the Democratic side, it was the same thing — raise taxes, pass the president's jobs bill, no entitlement reform,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

"On the Republican side, you had the one true breakthrough and that was this new concept of tax reform which could generate revenue from the upper brackets for deficit reduction."

If, as expected, the supercommittee does fail to reach an agreement, that would also likely set up a battle over the across-the-board cuts that would be scheduled to go into effect in 2013. Those cuts would hit the Pentagon especially hard, and some hawks – including Hensarling – have said they would work to lessen the sting of defense cuts.

More in Defense

House Armed Services announces new GOP members

Read more »