Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, traded barbs on the Senate floor today as negotiations around the Super Committee reach a frantic pace.With just days to reach a deal cutting $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit in time for it to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office before the November 23 statutory deadline, lawmakers are still far apart.
Reid described 40 minutes of talks with Speaker of the House John Boehner on the super committee’s work as “un-substantive,” but added he would not work to undo the sequester — or mandatory spending cuts that would take place if the committee fails to reach it’s deficit-cutting goal.
A frustrated Reid said the American people should try to impeach Grover Norquist, the controversial president of Americans for Tax Reform, whose pledge against tax increases has been signed by nearly all Republicans.
Taxes have always been the most significant issue for the committee to overcome — and recently Republicans offered as much as $300 billion in new revenues as part of a tax overhaul package. McConnell cited that proposal, saying his members have “been waiting for a week for a counter offer.”
Democrats are loathe ot accept the GOP offer since it would make permanent the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy. They want new tax revenues on the order of $1 trillion to go alongside a great amount in spending cuts in a push for a “grand bargain.”
Republicans are wary enough at breaking Norquist’s pledge for no new tax hikes for $300 billion, putting the odds of $1 trillion in new tax revenue almost certainly out of reach.
Another alternative being explored is kicking the tax issue to congressional committees — which would be an acknowledgment that even with strong disincentives, Congress can’t reach an compromise. That proposal would see the super committee outline rough tax guidelines for which committees will draw up specific plans to implement later.
Republicans are also criticising President Barack Obama for his hands off approach to the super committee. He will be out of Washington until the weekend — allowing him to blame Congress if they fail to reach a deal.
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