November 23, the deadline for the supercommittee to formulate a deal to cut the nation's deficit by $1.2 trillion, is only weeks away, but the anticipated bipartisan compromise appears far from certain. Some lawmakers, like Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), are encouraged that the chances of a deal are improving, but others remain skeptical.
The six Democrats on the supercommittee last week proposed a $3 trillion reduction package that would address long-term funding issues with Medicare and Social Security. They suggest offsetting some of those cuts with $ 1.3 trillion in various tax increases.
The six Republican members proposed a much smaller package, with $ 2.2 trillion in cuts, that calls for nearly twice the health care savings accepted by the White House in August negotiations. It also would reduce the proposed tax-revenue target to a fraction of what House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the President discussed in late summer.
“We’ve now built our group from the so-called ‘gang of six’ to 45 senators saying to the super-committee, ‘You go big, find $3 trillion and make revenue through tax reform, entitlement reform – we’ve got your back,'” said Warner. “The chances are actually improving. Last week we saw some offers go back and forth.”
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) is less hopeful. He blamed the president for not being more involved in the deal-making process and for not fully endorsing the findings of the Simpson-Bowles commission.
“We’re not going to solve this without the involvement of the chief executive," Chambliss said. "He appointed that commission, and it was his ball game to play in. He should have endorsed it. I've got to think his folks are telling him, ‘we missed an opportunity.’”
Chambliss did concede that some revenue would need to be raised in order for the federal budget deficit to be reduced significantly.
“The fact of the matter is you can’t do this with just reducing spending. You can’t do it with just reforming entitlements, and you can’t just do it on the revenue side. It takes a combination of all three,” Chambliss added.