Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMajor US port target of attempted cyber attack Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Officials want action on cyberattacks Officials urge Congress to consider fining companies that fail to report cyber incidents MORE (Ohio), Republican members of the deficit-reduction supercommittee, are trying to attract Democrats off the special panel to support their plan to restructure the tax code.
Toomey and Portman met with Democratic and Republican members of the Gang of Eight on Wednesday to present their plan to reduce the deficit, according to Senate sources. The ambitious proposal would raise about $300 billion in new net tax revenues and lower marginal income tax rates across the board.
Toomey and Portman hope to build momentum for their proposal, which they believe could serve as the basis for a supercommittee deal. The panel faces a Nov. 23 deadline to submit a plan for at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts.
The original Gang of Six — an informal bipartisan group committed to a major deficit-reduction deal — included Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Democrats surprised, caught off guard by 'framework' deal Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook MORE (D-Ill.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerPanic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda Democrats surprised, caught off guard by 'framework' deal Schumer announces Senate-House deal on tax 'framework' for .5T package MORE (D-Va.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks GOP senators say Biden COVID-19 strategy has 'exacerbated vaccine hesitancy' The Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act is an industry game-changer MORE (R-Idaho), Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissEffective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Live coverage: Georgia Senate runoffs Trump, Biden face new head-to-head contest in Georgia MORE (R-Ga.) and Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnBiden and AOC's reckless spending plans are a threat to the planet NSF funding choice: Move forward or fall behind DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office MORE (R-Okla.).
Sens. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetBuild Back Better Act must include funding to restore forests, make communities resilient and create jobs Interior reverses Trump, moves BLM headquarters back to DC Conservation group says it will only endorse Democrats who support .5T spending plan MORE (D-Colo.) and Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsMeet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska Farmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World MORE (R-Neb.) later joined the group to make it the Gang of Eight.
Not all members of the Gang could attend the last-minute meeting with Toomey and Portman.
The two Republicans appear to be trying to build bipartisan support for their proposal by sharing it outside the narrow confines of the supercommittee. But some Democrats suspect they could be trying to drive a wedge between the Democratic members of the Gang of Six and the supercommittee.
Democratic supercommittee members this week firmly rejected Toomey’s plan as lacking credibility.
A person familiar with supercommittee negotiations said Thursday evening that those talks had hit an “impasse.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo Build Back Better, we need a tax system where everyone pays their fair share Democrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda MORE (D-Nev.) on Thursday called it a “phony” plan because it lacked details about how Republicans would raise new tax revenue while slashing income tax rates.
But Durbin, the Senate Democratic Whip, offered some encouragement, saying Wednesday that the fact that Republicans were talking about a net increase in taxes was a “breakthrough."
Durbin said he does not support Toomey’s plan but nevertheless said putting revenues on the table was “an important step forward.”
Durbin served for months on the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission and later the Gang of Six in an effort to build a significant deficit-reduction package.
Toomey and Portman hope that other Democrats who are committed to a major deficit-reduction deal might be interested in the latest offer from GOP members of the supercommittee.
Aides to Toomey and Portman declined to comment.
Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayTexas abortion law creates 2022 headache for GOP Top Democrat says he'll push to address fossil fuel tax breaks in spending bill Faith leaders call on Congress to lead the response to a global pandemic MORE (Was.), the Democratic co-chairwoman of the supercommittee, dismissed the GOP’s latest proposal this week, telling reporters she has “yet to see a real, credible plan that raises revenue in a significant way to bring us to a fair, balanced proposal”, according to The Washington Post.
Republicans think other Democrats might be persuaded to support it, however.
“I do,” said Coburn. “It’s a big breakthrough, like Dick Durbin said.”
Durbin says Republicans are taking his comments out of context.
“I believe the fact that Republicans have mentioned the word 'revenue' is a breakthrough. Now, I have not endorsed their proposal, nor do I think it’s the endgame by any means. But the fact that they have put revenues on the table is an important step forward,” Durbin told Reuters.
A senior Democratic aide expressed skepticism that any Democratic senators would voice support for the Toomey plan.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning think tank, said the proposal “raises grave concerns” and adds “little balance.”
“The proposal seems designed to make only a modest revenue contribution toward deficit reduction and then to take revenues off the table for the larger rounds of deficit reduction that must follow,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote in an analysis.