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Entries in Super Committee (30)

Sunday
Sep092012

Romney Slams GOP Leaders, Including Paul Ryan, for 2011 Budget Deal

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.), as chair of the House Budget Committee, was part of the team that signed off on the budget deal with the White House, mandating immediate spending cuts, creating a “Super-committee” tasked to finding $1.5 trillion in further deficit reduction and raising a self-imposed sword of Damocles — $1.2 trillion in cuts to the Pentagon and domestic spending that few in Congress wanted — if the Super-committee failed.

Writing at the National Review Online at the time, Ryan said the bill was a “reasonable, responsible effort to cut government spending, avoid a default, and help create a better environment for job creation.”

But today Mitt Romney said Ryan, the man he picked as his running mate on the Republican presidential ticket, and other House GOP leaders made a “big mistake” in agreeing to that deal, which was part of the summer 2011 negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.

Romney said the mandated cuts were “an extraordinary miscalculation in the wrong direction.”

“Republican leaders agreed to that deal to extend the debt ceiling,” NBC’s David Gregory reminded Romney.

“And that’s a big mistake,” Romney said. “I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it. I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov292011

Step Aside, Supercommittee, the Gang of Six May Stage a Comeback

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Sidelined in part while the 12-member supercommittee worked, in futility, these past months toward the goal of finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years, the Gang of Six is breathing new oxygen into the power of their bipartisan group of senators on Capitol Hill following the failure of the supercommittee.

Last night the members of the so-called Gang of Six -- Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Crapo of Idaho, and Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois, North Dakota’s Kent Conrad and Virginia’s Mark Warner -- held a private dinner meeting in Senator Durbin’s Capitol Hill office, Max Gleischman, spokesman to Durbin, confirmed Tuesday. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Senator Mike Johanns, R-Neb., also joined.

The working dinner, which aides say happens with some regularity, carries new weight and importance following the failure of the supercommittee.

Congress is suddenly faced with a mountain the supercommittee could not climb, a way to find deficit cuts to make sure the sequester -- the trigger-starting, devastating, automatic and across-the-board cuts to the federal budget -- does not kick in.

Senate aides with knowledge of the dinner meeting say the group is continuing the work they started this past January, trying to turn the Bowles-Simpson plan into a bipartisan bill. Their goal remains the same, to reach at least $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years.

But Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., splashed cold water on the idea that the Gang might be on to something, calling the group’s ideas nothing more than “happy talk.”

“If someone has a proposal about reducing the deficit, the debt, here’s my suggestion: put it in bill form in writing. Not all these happy statements about what people think can be done. I am stunned by the Gang of Six that we hear so much about,” Reid said, adding that the three Republican members of the Gang of Six -- Senators Crapo, Coburn and Chambliss -- have all signed letters saying they will not raise any taxes. “Put it in bill form, and have it scored, bring it to me and I’ll take a look on it. But other than that, it’s just happy talk.”

Aides to members of the Gang of Six say that they are currently meeting and evaluating whether it’s feasible that they could get something in legislation form.

In July, during the height of the debt debate in Congress, before the conception of the supercommittee, the Gang of Six’s debt proposal on Capitol Hill had some momentum on Capitol Hill.

The plan, with a goal of $3.7 trillion of deficit reduction over the next 10 years, called for a $500 billion down payment on cutting the deficit. There would be an increase in tax revenues by $1 trillion by closing a variety of special tax break and havens, which would amount to a net tax decrease of $1.5 trillion because the Alternative Minimum Tax would be repealed.

It is not clear if the Gang of Six would build off that proposal, which was supported by a large group of senators, in their new plan when and if one is written in legislative form.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov222011

'Super Failure': Burden On Congress to Prevent Scheduled Tax Increases

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Now that the 12-member congressional “supercommittee” has announced its failure to produce an all-encompassing, deficit-reduction package before its Wednesday deadline, the full Congress faces deadlines of its own.

Before lawmakers pack up for Christmas, they must first decide whether to extend the payroll tax break and long-term unemployment benefits, both of which expire Dec. 31.

“I find it very hard to believe they would end the benefits altogether,” said Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “I don’t think they want to have more people see more money pulled out of their paycheck come Jan. 1.”

President Obama jetted to New Hampshire Tuesday to urge Congress, or more pointedly, Republicans in Congress, to extend the two-percent payroll tax cut that he championed last year. That lower rate, which Obama said put about $1,000 into the average American’s pocket in 2010, is set to rise back to 6.2 percent in 2013.

In the president’s jobs plan, he not only extends the payroll tax cut, but further decreases the rate from the current 4.2 percent down to 3.1 percent.

Obama’s American Jobs Act was blocked by Republicans in both the House and Senate. He has since tried to push pieces of it through Congress. After successfully passing a veterans’ benefits bill earlier this month, Obama said he will push for a vote on the payroll tax extension shortly after Thanksgiving.

With the House set to adjourn for the winter holidays Dec. 8, Congress will have just two weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to deal with not only a payroll tax extension, but also the rather costly long-term unemployment insurance benefits.

Congress has extended such benefits twice in the past four years, but with austerity being the name of the game on Capitol Hill these days, the question will not be whether to extend them, but how to pay for them.

About 3.5 million Americans have received the long-term unemployment insurance, which extends the maximum number of weeks that the unemployed can collect benefits from a maximum of 26 weeks to, in some states, 99 weeks.

Both payroll tax rates and unemployment benefits were expected to be included in the supercommittee’s plan to reduce deficits by $1.2 trillion in five years.

Now that the committee has abandoned any hope of reaching a deal, these two measures could be rolled into the third, and arguably most important, item on Congress’s pre-Christmas to-do list: to pass a budget.

The current continuing resolution expires Dec. 16, giving Congress three weeks to agree to a bill that will fund the government through the new year.

“These are all fairly clear items,” Baker said. “They know what they’re talking about and both sides have probably already thought through the next step. I would be very surprised if they don’t pass.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov212011

Super Fail: What Is More Popular than Congress?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In what was the icing on Congress’ cake of partisan gridlock, the 12-member, debt-reduction supercommittee announced Monday that it failed to reach a deal to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit in 10 years.

But this super fail might come as no surprise to the more than three-fourths of Americans who already disapprove of the job Congress is doing. With a lowest-in-history nine-percent approval rating, it’s hard to find anything these days that Americans are less supportive of than the U.S. Congress.

“It’s about as low as it gets,” said David Brady, a political science professor at Stanford University. “It’s the lowest I’ve ever seen it and I’ve been studying Congress for 45 years.”

In the nearly half-century-long history of Gallup polling, the only people or institutions that have been more unpopular than the current Congress are Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and Mark Fuhrman, a detective in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, said Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport.

“I think it is very significant that, in general, approval is so low for Congress,” Newport said. “It’s very, very important because it’s the fundamental nature of our democratic system and when people lose faith in the system, that’s not good at all.”

In polls for the past few months, the public had a higher opinion of everything from celebrity heiress Paris Hilton to going to war with Iran than it did of Congress.

Actor Charlie Sheen was more than twice as popular as Congress in an August Ipsos poll. And the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan received three times as much support as Congress in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll.

Even amid what was arguably the greatest presidential scandal in history, former President Nixon had more support than the current Congress with 24 percent of the public giving him the thumbs-up at the height of the Watergate scandal.

The banking industry also weathered scandal better than this Congress. In the midst of the 2008 banking crisis, 22 percent of respondents in a Gallup poll said they were still confident in U.S. banks.

According to the latest Gallup poll, President Obama’s approval rating is more than four times that of the legislature and America’s least popular governor, Florida’s Rick Scott, has almost triple as much support, according to a May Quinnipiac poll.

Brady said congressional approval generally ranks lower than that of the president or individual lawmakers because Congress is an institution and therefore doesn’t have a “personality” like an individual does.

But even though nine out of 10 voters do not support Congress, Brady said that wave of frustration is unlikely to translate into Americans’ voting their congressman out of office. Most incumbent lawmakers will have to work “extra hard” to win re-election, he said, but if history is any indication, more than 90 percent will win their seat back in 2012.

“What it means is it changes the game,” Brady said. “It could be that that low rating might mean there are 20 or 25 incumbents that don’t get re-elected or who resign, which is not insignificant, especially if you are one of the 25 that looses.”

But as the most recent rumors of congressional failure solidify, even a “supercommittee meltdown” might not drive the few dwindling supporters away from Congress.

“I’m not sure that it can go much lower,” Newport said. “Americans are already so discouraged about Congress that this will serve as another reinforcement of what they already believe.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov212011

Obama on Debt Deal Failure: GOP 'Refused to Listen'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Monday he will veto any efforts to get rid of the automatic spending cuts that will be triggered by the supercommittee’s failure to reach a bipartisan solution to deficit reduction.

“There will be no easy off-ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure,” the president said Monday evening. “The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.”

The $1.2 trillion in cuts that will be triggered are divided equally between social programs and defense spending. Republicans have dubbed the defense cuts “draconian” and, following news of the supercommittee’s failure, said they are now working on a plan to minimize the impact of the sequester on the Department of Defense.

But the president on Monday flatly said he won’t accept any such deal and urged the two sides to continue working on an agreement.

He squarely placed the blame on Republicans for failing to come together on the deal that was to have been inked by midnight Monday.

“There are still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington,” Obama said. "At this point, at least, they simply will not budge from that negotiating position....That refusal continues to be the main stumbling block.”

The co-chairs of the supercommittee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Pat Murray, D-Wash., said they were “deeply disappointed” by the lack of a deal to cut $1.2 trillion from the budget.

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline,” the two said.

But they pledged to continue the talks.

“I knew that it would be hard to do,” Murray told reporters. “I think we all know that our country is divided. Certainly the committee had different philosophies....I am disappointed tonight that things I cared about deeply, which is getting our country back on track and making shared sacrifice, aren’t the result of this committee’s hard work.”

Tax cuts were one of the biggest dividing factors between the two sides.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, steered clear of playing the blame game, only saying that “the House will forge ahead with the commitments.”

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said they are now working on a plan to minimize the “draconian” impact of the sequester on the Department of Defense, which will bear half of the $1.2 trillion in budget cuts.

The cuts would begin in 2013, when the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Defense Department would have to slash 10 percent, or about $550 billion, from its budget. Combined with the $450 billion worth of cuts already planned, that would amount to $1 trillion in the next decade.

“These cuts represent a threat to the national security interests of the United States, and cannot be allowed to occur,” McCain and Graham said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov212011

Supercommittee Fails to Reach Bipartisan Deal

Medioimages/Photodisc(WASHINGTON) -- The co-chairs of the supercommittee tasked with finding a bipartisan solution to deficit reduction said Monday afternoon that the group has failed to reach an agreement.

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline,” co-chairs Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement.

“Despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve,” the statement said. “We remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee’s work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy.”

“We are deeply disappointed that we have been unable to come to a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement, but as we approach the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, we want to express our appreciation to every member of this committee, each of whom came into the process committed to achieving a solution that has eluded many groups before us. Most importantly, we want to thank the American people for sharing thoughts and ideas and for providing support and good will as we worked to accomplish this difficult task.”

There were early signs that the Super Committee would not be able to reach an agreement, but there was a last-minute effort by a few members of the committee to salvage something.

A bipartisan group comprised of Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., John Kerry, R-Mass., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, met in the Capitol Monday afternoon. Senate aides said Kerry and Kyl also spoke earlier Monday morning.

But the two sides failed to come together despite a show of optimism.

Kyl, who had indicated that the talks were not fruitful, said Monday morning that the result of the Super Committee is one of the biggest disappointments of his career. Kyl is retiring at the end of his term.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov182011

Super Committee GOP Offer 'Backup' Plan, Dems Reject the Offer

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Around the Capitol, it certainly feels like the Friday before a deadline.
 
Late Friday, Republicans on the Super Committee, along with Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio., offered a “last-ditch, plan B” proposal to Democrats, in case the negotiators on the Super Committee fail to reach their target.
 
A Republican aide says their plan is “designed to be the lowest of the low hanging fruit, stuff that everyone agrees on,” so that if Super Committee members fail to reach the big agreement at least there will be something left to salvage.
 
The Republican plan, as offered late Friday to Democrats, is well below the mandated $1.2 trillion cuts the committee is supposed to come up with.
 
The plan calls for $643 billion in cuts over the next decade, including $229 billion in additional revenues and $316 billion in spending cuts. The plan does not touch Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. To entice Democrats further, the Republican plan closes the corporate jet tax loophole.
 
Republican aides say that this plan draws directly from former debt groups like Simpson/Bowles and Rivlin/Domenici. Aides stress that even while they are offering this contingency plan, Republicans still continue to search for a way forward to achieve $1.2 trillion or more in deficit reduction, but this offer should serve as a back-up plan.
 
But Democrats were not buying it, and immediately rejected the Republican proposal Friday.
 
“From what I’ve heard it does not meet, even close to coming to meet, the issues that we set out from the beginning: fair and balanced,” a visibly frustrated Sen. Patty Murray, Democratic co-chair of the committee said Friday. “The wealthiest among us need to participate and we are still waiting for a revenue plan from the Republicans that meets that test.”
 
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., essentially mocked the Republican offer, noting that it falls far short of the primary goal of the committee.
 
“We were sent here to do $1.2 trillion or $1.5 trillion or $4 trillion so the idea on Friday of settling for half of what the American people need, what we were sent here to do, is unacceptable to me,” Kerry said leaving a private meeting Friday afternoon. “I think the American people on its face can tell that that does not meet any standard of fairness, any standard of common sense.”
 
Both Murray and Kerry, two of the most outspoken Democrats on the Super Committee with a large role in the negotiations, seemed visibly frustrated, exhausted and unsure now of the way forward.
 
“This is the divide right now and we’re still working,” said Kerry, “I hope we can get there, but I don’t know.”
 
With nearly all members of Congress home now for the Thanksgiving holiday, the members of the Super Committee will continue working through the weekend in order to get a deal by next week. While the deadline for a deal is Wednesday, the group knows they need to get a proposal to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office by Monday at the latest to be scored and voted on in time.
 
Leaving Capitol Hill Friday night, one Republican on the exclusive panel expressed uncertainty on the path ahead.
 
“I don’t have as much hope as I did last week, but we talked again today,” Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said. “You know, deadlines have a way of focusing your attention, so … we’re going to keep talking.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov182011

Super Committee ‘Painfully Aware’ of Nov. 23 Deadline

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reductions says that Democrat and GOP members continue to negotiate and “talk about new ideas” as the super committee makes the final sprint to next Wednesday’s deadline.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said that “If an agreement is not reached today, members of the Joint Select Committee, Democrats and Republicans, will meet through the weekend.”

“We are painfully, painfully aware of  the deadline that is staring us in the face,” Hensarling said at a hastily arranged press conference after Republican members met Friday morning. “We have 12 good people who have worked hard since this committee has been created to find sufficient common ground for an agreement that will simultaneously address both our nation’s jobs crisis and debt crisis, and clearly, when we have something more to report we will report.”

The three House Democrats on the panel -- Reps. Chris Van Hollen, James Clyburn and Xavier Becerra -- provided the House Democratic Caucus with an update on the talks. Van Hollen, D-Md., said that he told his Democratic colleagues that the committee is, “still making every effort to try to reach an agreement that is balanced.”

“[Balanced] meaning that there [are] tough cuts but also revenues for closing corporate tax loopholes, asking folks at the very top to pay a little more and that we’re still focused on trying to do something about jobs,” Van Hollen said. “We should leave no stone unturned.”

Sen. John Kerry is currently hosting a bipartisan meeting Friday in the Capitol with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. Democratic co-chair Sen. Patty Murray was the only Senate member of the committee not in attendance.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to get an agreement,” Baucus told reporters as he headed into the meeting. “[There's] lots of different meetings. It’s whatever works.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov182011

Super Committee State of Play: Five Days Left

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Both Democratic and Republican members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction huddled privately on Thursday, but the whole 12-member Super Committee has not sat down together in weeks and the group, with each passing moment, appears to be hurtling toward a potential failure.

Both sides claim they have gone as far as possible and called on each other to make further concessions.

Democratic co-chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., insisted on Thursday that all Democratic members on the committee are in line with each other and that they would accept the Republicans’ offer, as authored by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., with a few tweaks.

“We have met their offer on revenue,” Murray said after leaving a meeting with her Democratic committee colleagues.  “But we have said it has to be fair to the American people and done in a way that doesn’t put the burden on working families and addresses the issues of getting people back to work.  We are waiting for them to accept that.”

The Toomey plan would raise federal tax revenue by about $250 billion over the next decade by limiting tax breaks like mortgage interest deductions for Americans in return for lower income tax rates.  The plan extends the Bush-era tax rates, which were extended by President Obama last year but are once again set to expire at the end of next year.  The plan proposes $876 billion in total spending reductions, including $275 billion in health entitlement savings.

Democrats say they are willing to accept those revenue numbers but they insist on a few changes, namely that the plan must allow the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012.  The Democrats also say there can be no increase in the Medicare retirement age and that the agreement could not include a chained Consumer Price Index -- which could cut hundreds of thousands from Social Security benefits.  Finally, Democrats say the deal must make a “real investment” into job creation.

Republicans on the committee have resisted the purportedly tweaked Democratic counter proposal, denying a new Democratic offer even exists at all.  Instead, the GOP members say they are waiting on the Democrats to come up with a genuine counter-offer.

“There was a piece of paper exchanged between a couple of the people, but it is not a new offer in the sense of meeting our ‘tax number,’” said Sen. Jon Kyl, the number two Republican in the Senate.  “The piece of paper you’re talking about presumed that the current policy, which is that the ’01/’03 tax rates that have been in existence for a decade will continue to be in existence.  [Democrats] assume that not to be the case.  So it is not $400 trillion, but rather $400 [trillion-plus] whatever will happen in January of 2013.”

Murray said that Democrats believe they have “opened a door to negotiations in these last final hours,” by agreeing to the Toomey plan.  She said it is up to Republicans to “come to an agreement on their side on revenue” to be able to move forward.

With five days left until the committee’s Nov. 23 deadline and no deal in sight, about the only thing members of the Super Committee seem to agree on around the Capitol is that time is running short.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov172011

Perry Chides Obama, Talks Super Committee and Stock Trade Probe

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(JACKSON, Miss.) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that as president, he would not honor the budget cuts that would go into effect should the super committee fail to reach its deficit reduction goal, and he reprimanded President Obama for his trip abroad as the super committee attempts to reach an agreement before its Nov. 23 deadline.

“Not at all,” Perry said when asked if he would uphold the cuts. “As a matter of fact, the super committee is a great example of just the lack of leadership that we have in Washington. The president, AWOL as far as I’m concerned. As a matter of fact instead of being in Hawaii, or Asia, or whether he thinks he is on this particular trip, he ought to be here, working on this budget issue. We know what the problem is, we got a spending problem in Washington, D,C., and we’ve got to be sitting down and working out the details of this, and I think abrogating the responsibility of the presidency to a super committee of Congress was bad leadership to begin with.”

Perry, who is on a fundraising swing through Mississippi, held the media availability session to address his request to debate Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., next Monday, a proposition she declined Thursday morning.

“When you have routine insider corruption on Capitol Hill, when you have liberal opposition to freeing the economy in this country, when you have total disrespect for family values, that’s the reason Nancy Pelosi is running away from having a debate with me,” Perry said.

Since she would not agree to debate the Texas governor, Perry called on Pelosi to turn over any information pertaining to her involvement in potential insider trading to the SEC.

In 1998, the SEC opened an investigation into possible insider trading on the part of Perry, an investigation which was later terminated.

According to the Huffington Post, Perry purchased 2,800 shares of stock in Kinetics Concepts, Inc., a company owned by top Perry donor James Leininger, in late January 1996. Perry sold his stock for a profit of $38,000 one month later. In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Perry admitted he spoke with Leininger on the same day he made his stock purchase, but denied the topic of stocks came up in their conversation.

Ray Sullivan, communications director for Perry, said the investigation was a result of attacks from his Democratic opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race and a Democratic congressman who requested the investigation be conducted. Sullivan noted “the allegations were not based on the use of government information, as Congress is accused of doing.” The SEC later terminated the investigation and did not pursue any enforcement action against the governor, according to a letter provided to ABC News.

Perry’s holdings were put into a blind trust in 1998, and since then he has had no involvement in his stock portfolio.

While in Mississippi, Perry was accompanied by Henry Barbour, a Perry supporter and fundraiser and nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who said the Texas governor still has the fundraising muscle to remain viable in the race.

“He has definitely has sufficient resources to run a very strong race,” Barbour said. “He is in Mississippi today, and we raised good money.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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