Dems present offer to cut deficit by $2 trillion
WASHINGTON – Democrats on Congress’ supercommittee secretly presented Republicans with a revised deficit-cutting proposal earlier this week that calls for a blend of $1 trillion in spending cuts and $1 trillion in higher tax revenue over the next decade, officials in both parties said Wednesday night, adding that compromise talks remain alive though troubled.
The previously undisclosed offer scaled back an earlier Democratic demand for $1.3 trillion in higher taxes, a concession to Republicans. At the same time it jettisoned a plan to slow the growth in future cost-of-living increases in Social Security benefits, a provision liberal Democrats oppose.
The one-page proposal was handed to Republicans at a meeting Monday night attended by some but not all members of the supercommittee. At the same session, GOP lawmakers in attendance advanced a revised proposal of their own that signaled for the first time they would be willing to accept higher revenues as part of a plan to cut deficits over the next decade.
Given the unusual secrecy of the meeting and the committee’s Nov. 23 deadline to produce at least $1.2 trillion in savings, it appeared that the pace of activity on the panel was accelerating. Less clear was whether there was still time to bridge enormous differences on priorities, or whether each side was laying the groundwork for trying to blame the other in case gridlock triumphs.
The committee, comprising six Republicans and six Democrats, has been working for weeks. Evidence of progress has been scarce, with Republicans demanding large cuts in benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare, while Democrats pressed for additional tax revenue as a condition for agreeing to make deep spending cuts.
Few details are known of the session Monday night, except that Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., outlined a plan on behalf of the four Republicans in attendance, and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., countered with the revisions in an earlier Democratic proposal.
One official said the meeting lasted several hours.