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Super Committee's Prospects for Success Dimming Super Committee's Prospects for Success Dimming

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Super Committee: The Deficit Dozen / Sunday Shows Blog

Super Committee's Prospects for Success Dimming

Senate Banking Committee member Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., questions witnesses on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, May 12, 2011, during the committee's hearing on the status the Dodd-Frank implementation. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)  (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

November 20, 2011

11:17. Kerry Opens Up About Details of Super Committee Talks

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., on Sunday revealed some details about the internal super committee discussions that have led to stalemate, saying that the White House and President Obama had been asked to keep out of deliberations. "They were asked to be hands off," Kerry said on Meet the Press. "The Republicans said, 'Don’t let Obama get into this because it will be political.'" But Kerry added that he's "talked to the White House maybe once a week" on the deliberations anyway.

Kerry expressed intense frustration over what he described as Republican intransigence. "There’s one thing standing between us and avoiding the sequester ... Republican unwillingness to not push for the Bush tax cuts to be extended now." He added that, contrary to GOP charges that Democrats were avoiding tough choices or sacred cows on entitlement cuts, in fact "every one of them was on the table." His GOP counterpart, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said that Republicans had tried to put forward a smaller alternative plan to save about $640 billion in cuts, but "the Democrats no, because it didn’t raise taxes .... In Washington there is a group of folks that will not cut a dollar unless we raise taxes."


Kerry, pressed on the presidential prospects for his fellow Massachusetts politician, Republican candidate Mitt Romney, also said that there were "few people I’ve met in public life who’ve changed [positions] as much as he has … from abortion to war to God."

—Michael Hirsh

10:40. Toomey: It's Going to Be Tough

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., suggested in stark words on Sunday that the super committee seems destined to miss its Nov. 23 deadline. He also made the case, albeit meekly, for one of the so-called small deals that would cut around $600 billion and delay budget-cutting decisions until next year.

"It's going to be tough given where the clock is," Toomey said on CBS's Face the Nation. "There is still an opportunity. There's a plan on the table that would at least take us halfway to our goal ... it's on the shelf; it's been scored; it's ready to go. If the Democrats would agree to that we can still get something done," Toomey said, referring to a proposal that surfaced last week," he said.

Asked what's next for the committee, Toomey implied that the budget cuts that would be automatically triggered—sequestration, in parliamentary terms— if the panel cannot reach a deal inject some optimism into the process.

"The silver lining is that we're gonna get the spending cuts anyway. That was designed into the bill that created the committee. ... The $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, however, I think need to be reconfigured. They're done in a way that would be very harmful to our nation's defense," he said

—Michael Catalini

9:58. Kerry, Kyl Sound Pessimistic

Two super committee members, Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.,  sounded grim about any prospect for a deal on another Sunday show, Meet the Press. Kyl suggested the Republicans were already talking about rescinding the mandated or "sequestered" cuts on defense that are supposed to follow if the committee fails. "We do have the opportunity, even if the committee fails, to work around the sequester," Kyl said. Kerry said if there is no deal and the Republicans try to roll back the sequestered budget cuts in separate legislation the result will be another debt downgrade for the United States.

—Michael Hirsh

9:39. Hensarling: No Deal

With a little more than a day to go before a procedural deadline for the deficit super committee, Republican Co-Chair Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, voiced pessimism about the prospects on Sunday, indicating there was no deal on the table and none forthcoming.

“People have invested so much in this. Nobody wants to give up hope,” Hensarling said on Fox News Sunday, indicating that talks would continue “until the stroke of midnight Monday,” the deadline by which a plan was supposed to have been delivered to the Congressional Budget Office. But Hensarling also spoke in the present tense about the "lost opportunity" represented by the Super Committee deliberations and noted that “the nation is still going to end up dollar of spending reduction for every dollar increase,” albeit it would be “the dumb way,” through automatic triggers.

A Democratic member of the Committee, Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., sounded slightly less pessimistic. “We’re deep into the fourth quarter, but there’s still time on the clock,” he said on the same program.

But both Hensarling and Becerra indicated that the dispute continues to be a fundamental one: Republicans refuse to sign onto any plan that substantially raises taxes, in particular permitting the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, while Democrats -- though they appear to have gone further toward the GOP position than the other way around—reject serious cuts in Medicare and other entitlement programs.

“I’m not saying it’s anybody’s fault,” said Hensarling . “We’ve got people with very different views frankly of what it takes to produce jobs and what it takes to produce economic growth.”

—Michael Hirsh

9:31. Murray: Republicans 'Enthralled' by Norquist

Disagreement over revenue, entitlements, and spending cuts as well as a pledge signed by Republicans not to raise taxes are the principal stumbling blocks for the super committee, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Sunday.

Murray, the co-chair of the deficit reduction super committee, did not say if the panel would reach a deal by its Wednesday deadline. Asked what the prospects of getting a deal were, Murray demurred.

"There is one sticking divide; that is the issue of shared sacrifice," Murray said on CNN's State of the Union. She also said that tax cuts enacted during the George W. Bush administration amounted to a "line in the sand" that the parties could not bridge.

"The truth is at this point today Democrats have made some really tough decisions and come to some pretty tough choices that we're willing to put on the line … but only if the Republicans are willing to cross the line on the Bush tax cuts," she said.

To the Republican riposte that the party has put revenue on the table in the form of nearly $300 billion gained from closing so-called tax loopholes, Murray suggested that disagreement lay in how he cuts would be administered

"Democrats have come to the table to meet dollar for dollar what the Republicans are asking for … not policy for policy," she said.

Murray also zeroed in on the well-publicized promise some Republican lawmakers made not to raise taxes and suggested it was a cause for the flagging conversations between Democrats and Republicans.

"One the problems has been a pledge that too many Republicans took to a Republican wealthy lobbyist by the name of Grover Norquist … and as long as we have some Republican lawmakers who feel more enthralled with a pledge they took to a Republican lobbyist than they do to a pledge to the country to  solve the problems this is going to be hard to do," she said.

—Michael Catalini

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