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Super Committee: The Deficit Dozen / SUPER COMMITTEE

Hensarling Hasn't Given Up Hope on Super Committee

Supercommittee Co-Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, says the so-called supercommittee still has plenty of time to find a solution to the nation's debt crisis with the deadline for answers a month away, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

photo of Billy House
November 10, 2011

Super committee Cochair Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said on Thursday that he has not given up hope on the panel reaching agreement on a deficit plan.

Hensarling also contradicted the contention of some of his GOP colleagues that Democrats have walked away from the talks.

"The short answer is no," Hensarling said to reporters outside his office.

 

But he said that Republicans have made "considerable concessions," and that Democrats still have not offered a plan to deal with the nation's structural deficit "crisis."

The “drivers of our spending [are] Medicare, Medicaid, and health care," he said, "and nothing else comes close. And unless we fundamentally address that we will fail in our statutory duty.”

Hensarling spoke as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is nearing its Nov. 23 deadline to deliver to Congress a plan to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion. If no deal is struck, across-the-board spending cuts would automatically kick in.

The group hasn’t met in full since its Nov. 1 public hearing, and it is looking less and less likely that the 12 members will be able to eke out a deal. As of Thursday morning, no meetings of all the members were scheduled.

The gulf between Democrats and Republicans appears to remain significant, with both sides making offers that the other side slams. Wednesday night, for instance, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., a panel member, disputed the suggestion that Democrats are refusing to address entitlement spending.

“We recognize that we have to modernize the Medicare system. We need to reform it in a way that puts an emphasis on the value of care and the quality of care rather than the volume of care,” Van Hollen told PBS’ Nightly Business Report. “What we will not agree to is end the Medicare guarantee.”

On Thursday, Hensarling said he is fully aware that the deadline is less than two weeks away.

“Believe you me, I’ve got the calendar,” he said. “I’m not giving up hope, and I hope my Democrat colleagues aren’t giving up hope, until midnight on the 23rd.”

He added, “The stakes are too high for our economy to throw up our hands and give up, and so we’re not.” 

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