Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a key member of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, said today that the group still has a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to approve a plan, despite the impasse between Democrats and Republicans threatening to deadlock the group before its final Wednesday deadline.
The super committee is charged with finding $1.2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years and must submit any proposal to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office by Monday in order to be able to vote on any package. The panel's two sides have exchanged several formal proposals, as well as a litany of informal offerings, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) began to negotiate directly earlier this week.
"The hour is late. By law, our work on this committee must be completed this coming week. But I remain hopeful that we can meet our goal and I urge my Democratic colleagues to join us in this effort," Toomey said in the weekly Republican radio address. "We have what is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pass legislation that will generate millions of jobs, create a simpler, fairer tax system with lower rates for everyone and put our government on a path toward fiscal sanity."
Toomey also touted the virtues of a recent Republican offering he spearheaded last week that would save $1.2 trillion over 10 years, including $250 billion in tax code reform. Toomey's plan would permanently lower tax rates, including reducing the top rate from 35 percent to 28 percent. It would also continue the Bush era tax cuts re-extended by President Barack Obama last winter.
Democrats have said the Toomey plan including the extension of the Bush taxes and without any sort of jobs-creating provisions, is a non-starter.
"Surely our Democratic colleagues can agree that a bloated federal government that has grown by about 25 percent in the last few years can tighten its belt by 2 percent over the next 10 years," Toomey said. "We've identified several trillion dollars in sensible, responsible spending reductions that would actually resolve our fiscal crisis. But in the face of intense Democratic opposition, we've scaled back our proposal to just $750 billion – less than 2 percent of what our government is projected to spend over the next 10 years."
The recent proposal discussed between Boehner and Reid was a more modest $640 billion package. Any agreement short of the super committee's $1.2 trillion goal would lessen the impact of the across-the-board cuts mandated to take effect in January 2013 if the group does not reach a deal.
Democrats and Republicans on the committee were not scheduled to meet in-person Saturday, but both camps have conference calls scheduled.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.