Hoyer seeks deficit deal before election despite odds


At that time Congress will be forced to deal with automatic spending cuts set to begin in 2013, the expiration of the Bush-era tax rates, and the need to raise the debt ceiling. 

Jim Kessler of the centrist think tank Third Way said Monday that this “triple witching hour” will be an event as rare as Haley’s Comet and must be seized.

Hoyer at a Third Way event, argued that a time of divided government is an good time to find a solution on the debt and that a day after the next election, the 2014 elections will start to loom before members of Congress, a prospect that would encourage more delay.

Politically, Democrats could have more leverage before the election, if Republicans take the Senate and White House in November.

Hoyer would not say how far along talks on a bipartisan package are and indicated that the group discussing a grand bargain remains small.

He noted that a bipartisan group of 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans last fall had urged the failed deficit supercommittee to “go big” and seek a grand deficit bargain.

When pressed, Hoyer said that it would “overstate” things to say that current talks on a legislative package are a negotiation among this gang of 100.

Asked if the proposals could be ready by next month, when House Republicans will offer their 2013 budget for floor consideration, Hoyer said that sufficiently broad support has to be generated before a proposal is brought for a vote.

"Obviously you want to create a large consensus for that before you offer it so that its defeat is, if defeated, temporary only and not undermining of what the objective is, and that is getting a big, bold, balanced plan adopted,” he said.

Hoyer said there is a "broad consensus" that a compromise must be "big, bold and balanced," and would resemble the report of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission.

He said that federal workers, many of whom live in his district, are willing to make further sacrifices in a deal but only if all segments of society contribute. 

Hoyer said if lawmakers failed to reach a compromise by November, he would insist that only a big, bold plan be allowed to replace next year's automatic spending cuts. Some Republicans are seeking to waive the defense cuts.