House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) acknowledged that the 12 member deficit Super Committee is having a hard time reaching consensus, and dismissed as unserious a Democratic proposal that would have reduced the deficit by nearly $3 trillion, split fairly evenly between cuts to entitlement and other federal programs, and new taxes.
“I’m not surprised that, you know, we’re having some difficulty,” Boehner told reporters at a Thursday Capitol briefing. “Because this isn’t easy. It’s going to be very hard. But I do think it’s time for everyone to get serious about this.”
Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have taken a more active role in the negotiations to hasten progress, according to reports, and Boehner seemed to confirm that.“I’ve had lots of conversations with lots of people trying to make sure that we do in fact get to an outcome,” he said.
But the six Republicans and six Democrats on the panel remain at odds. Democrats put forth an offer Tuesday that aides say was designed as a potential consensus package — not a partisan Democratic proposal, but one that contained sacrifices for both sides.
Republicans responded with a smaller package comprised overwhelmingly of cuts to entitlement programs, and which generated some new revenue through government sales and fees, but not through targeted taxes. Democrats regarded the offer as wholly partisan. But whatever their intentions, the effect of each party rejecting the others’ plans may constrain future negotiations between two poles — a Democratic plan that compromises on entitlements, and a GOP offer that doesn’t compromise on revenues.
And though Boehner didn’t rule out a final solution with new tax revenues Thursday, he did insist that the final legislation be weighted heavily toward cuts to programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
“When you look at what’s yet to be done by the Super Committee — almost all that’s going to fall in the area I think of mandatory spending, which is more than two-thirds of the budget,” he said. “And it’s time for us to do our work there.”