Supercommittee members trade blame for impending failure

Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction hold a public hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011. From left are, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., Co-Chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, Co-Chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

super committee
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

With the congressional "supercommittee" ready to admit defeat, lawmakers are pointing fingers for the failed experiment in every direction.

Republicans are decrying President Obama's limited involvement in the negotiations and the Democrats' insistence on raising taxes. Members of the president's party, meanwhile, are pointing to the GOP's refusal to raise taxes as a sign that the party is beholden to anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

"As long as we have some Republican lawmakers who feel more enthralled with a pledge they took to a Republican lobbyist than they do to a pledge to the country to solve the problems, this is going to be hard to do," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wa., the Democratic co-chair of the supercommittee, said on CNN on Sunday, referencing the no-tax pledge run by Norquist's group, American for Tax Reform.

Some supercomittee members -- including Murray and the Republican co-chair, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas -- suggested Sunday there could be a last-minute effort to put a deal together. "Nobody wants to give up hope," Hensarling said on "Fox News Sunday." He added that "reality is to some extent starting to overtake hope," but he said negotiations were still in the works.

Still, rather than meeting one last time, Murray, Hensarling and other lawmakers spent Sunday on political talk shows to all but concede defeat. The 12-member bipartisan committee was tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings by November 23. However, given that the Congressional Budget Office would need a couple of days to estimate the actual cost savings in their plan, the committee's effective deadline is today.

Hensarling lamented on Fox, "unfortunately, what we haven't seen in these talks from the other side is any Democrats willing to put a proposal on the table that actually solves the problems."

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., drafted a plan for the Republican side that would have trimmed spending on Medicare and Social Security and closed tax loopholes and tax breaks to raise revenue. But rather than letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire as Democrats want, the plan would have lowered marginal income tax rates, bringing the highest bracket down to 28 percent.

On CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, said he had "taken a lot of arrows" from conservatives for proposing to close tax breaks. He blamed Democrats' "insistence that we have a trillion dollar tax increase" for the lack of progress in the committee.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," meanwhile, Democratic supercommittee member Sen. John Kerry, Mass., said of Republicans, "If they will give up their insistence on the Bush tax cuts, we can get this done."

Some Democrats, the New York Times reports, specifically blamed Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, Ariz., for the group's stalemate. One unnamed Democrat close to negotiations told the Times, "While Kyl is in the group, it sure seems that nothing will happen."

Kyl responded on Fox News on Monday that Times report gave "a characterization that would be unfair to any of the members of the committee." Also appearing Monday on CNBC, Kyl suggested letting the committee fail was politically convenient for Democrats because "the president gets to keep his message there's a dysfunctional Congress."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. -- who is not on the supercommittee -- also suggested Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that the president kept his distance from the negotiations as part of a "political strategy."

"I think it's very difficult for the Democrats on that committee to enter into a negotiation, not knowing where the White House is," he said.

The White House, meanwhile, chided the supercommittee for its impending failure. "Avoiding accountability and kicking the can down the road is how Washington got into this deficit problem in the first place," White House spokesperson Amy Brundage said in a statement.

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