Signs of progress in debt talks non-existent
On Sunday, the White House is calling on the congressional supercommittee to do its job, and produce a deficit-cutting plan by the Wednesday deadline. That's easier said than done. Signs of progress are virtually non-existent, while the sounds of partisanship are mounting to a roar. CBS News correspondent Whit Johnson in Washington is tracking the debate.
Staring down another congressional failure, supercommittee members on the Sunday talk shows seemed resigned to their missed opportunity.
"I think we are deep in the fourth quarter, but there's still time on the clock," said Rep. Xavier Becerra, (D-Calif.) on "Fox News Sunday."
"It's not entirely too late yet," said Sen. Pat Toomey, (R-Pa.) on CBS' Face the Nation. "It's still possible to reach an agreement, but it's gonna be tough given where the clock is."
After 10 weeks of closed-door meetings, the bipartisan group tasked with reducing deficits by $1.2 trillion over 10 years came up empty.
Committee co-chair, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, blamed Republicans and accused them of being unreasonable on tax increases for wealthier Americans.
"Is it going to be shared sacrifice or just working men and women going to carry the ball on this?" she asked on CNN. "I just can't support that."
Republicans, including Sen. Pat Toomey blamed Democrats and said they refuse to get serious about cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
"There was an unwillingness to cut any kind of spending at all unless there was a huge tax increase," he said.
Towards the end of the process, the divide was clear -- with the six Republicans and six Democrats typically meeting in separate rooms. Proposals and offers were passed back and forth. But none gained any traction.
"The supercommittee is not so super," said Dave Walker, former U.S. comptroller general. He said the automatic cuts that would take effect if the committee fails aren't threatening enough to get a deal.
"They're not supposed to happen until 2013, so there's always a risk that they could try to repeal all or part of it next year," said Walker.
Some Republicans like Sen. Jon Kyl say they're already planning on it, hoping to dodge painful cuts to defense spending. "We'll find ways to work around that," said Kyl on NBC's "Meet the Press."
If there were last minute efforts to strike a deal, you wouldn't know it walking around the Capitol. There were no scheduled supercommittee talks and the halls were mostly quiet.
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