House Republican leaders have started preparing their rank and file for a supercommittee budget deficit agreement that includes tax increases.
Of course, there is a good chance that members of Congress won’t have to worry about the issue, because the supercommittee may well fail to come to an agreement by its Nov. 23 deadline.
But GOP members of the panel have offered plans with increases in tax revenue, so the leaders want to keep their troops abreast, according to The Hill
Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, GOP co-chairman of the supercommittee, gave the House Republican Conference details Tuesday of the proposals that Republican panel members have made.
Lawmakers at the meeting told The Hill that Hensarling talked up the plan from supercommittee member Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that offered $300 billion in new tax revenue in exchange for making the Bush era tax cuts permanent.
House Speaker John Boehner told reporters after the briefing that Toomey’s plan represents a “fair offer” as part of a $1.25 trillion deficit reduction. “Both Democrats and Republicans have all done good work, they’ve worked very hard, but there isn’t an agreement,” Boehner said. “I’m convinced that if there is an agreement that it can, in fact, pass.”
Hensarling warned his GOP colleagues not too expect too much from the supercommittee.
Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., said Hensarling’s talk left him thinking there won’t be an agreement for much more than $1.25 trillion, despite the urgings of some congressmen for the panel to go big. “It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be anything major,” Schilling told The Hill.
Some conservatives are worried about possible tax increases, given their pledge to vote against them. Schilling said Hensarling didn’t directly address Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, but said, “his pledge is to the people of his district.”
Hensarling voiced concern that, if Republicans don’t accept tax increases now, they will have to brook larger hikes if the Bush tax cuts expire as scheduled after 2012.
Hensarling told his colleagues that Democratic members of the supercommittee are divided, making it more difficult to reach a deal.
“The Republicans’ problem has been that they are not dealing with a Democrat Party that’s been cohesive in their position,” said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.
Members of Congress voiced mixed sentiment over the GOP proposal after the meeting. One representative told The Hill that Hensarling’s comments amounted to “covering their [leaders’] rear” over a tax increase.
Reps. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, and Tim Scott of South Carolina said they are undecided on the plan. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan supports it. “I think it was a strong attempt to try to break a logjam,” he said. “Held up against a big tax increase that is coming, I’ll take that any day.”
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