The 12 members of the deficit Super Committee have been so tight lipped about their negotiations, that most of the clues about their progress come from Congressional colleagues — most of whom are also in the dark about specifics.
At his weekly Capitol briefing Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) had a hard time pegging the panel’s chances for reaching an agreement to achieve trillions of dollars in deficit reduction. But he insisted that if the panel failed to achieve significant savings, Congress will have to keep chipping away.
“People ask me, ‘Are you optimistic?’ I say, ‘Look, I’m not optimistic — I’m hopeful,'” Hoyer said. “I hope, because I think it’s absolutely essential that we do so, that we succeed. Producing a product that is a big deal, not a small deal — if we do a small deal, we’ll have to revisit that.”Hoyer found himself in a rhetorical cul-de-sac when pressed to parse the difference between words like hopeful, optimistic, confident, and so on. But he said members of the Committee itself still claim to be making progress.
“I didn’t say I have a lack of confidence, that’s your word,” Hoyer cautioned a reporter. “What I — I was asked, was I confident? I said I was hopeful. You are now taking that one step further that I have a lack of confidence. What I’ve told you — the absence of confidence is not necessarily the lack of confidence. I don’t wanna parse all these words with you, but I’m hopeful, and what I’ve said is, [Rep. Chris] Van Hollen, who’s in the room, believes they’re working constructively towards a common end.”
Additional reporting from Brian Fung.