Sen. Charles Schumer said he believes the super committee will fail — making him one of the highest-ranking lawmakers to take this stance publicly, just weeks before the panel’s Nov. 23 deadline to produce a bill with at least $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years.
In an interview today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the No. 3 Senate Democrat said Republicans will be to blame if the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction deadlocks because the GOP has largely refused to consider tax increases as part of a final package.
“I don’t think the super committee is going to succeed because our Republican colleagues have said no net revenues,” the New York lawmaker said. “You talk to the three people on our super committee on the Senate side, you talk to [Rep. Chris] Van Hollen [D-Md.], we’re willing to move to the middle.”
“They are not willing to do any revenues,” Schumer continued. “The American people are beginning to sniff this. They’re beginning to sniff that the other side is sort of dug in and not compromising.”
The super committee has reached an impasse, in large part because of the perpetual stumbling blocks of taxes and entitlements, but Republicans pushed back on Schumer’s assertion today. In attacking the Democrats’ public relations chief, Republicans pointed to comments made Sunday by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in which the leader highlighted a willingness to address the tax code.
“I believe that if we restructure our tax code, where on the corporate side and the personal side, the target would be a top rate of 25 percent, it would make our economy more competitive with the rest of the world,” Boehner said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “It would put Americans back to work. We’d have a broader base on the tax rules. And out of that, there would be real economic growth and more revenues for the federal government.”
In a proposal two weeks ago, Democrats offered a plan that would instruct the tax-writing committees — House Ways and Means and Senate Finance — to write an overhaul of the tax code that would bring in about $1 trillion in savings. Though Boehner had negotiated nearly $800 billion in revenues with President Barack Obama when they were close to a $4 trillion “grand bargain” this summer, the GOP super committee offering was much more modest. The Republican plan included billions of dollars of cuts to Medicare beneficiaries as revenue, a move that offended many of the panel’s Democrats.
Meanwhile, Van Hollen, who sits on the super committee, appeared on the same television program about an hour before Schumer made his statements and expressed optimism that the panel would succeed.
“This is a critical week coming up. The clock is ticking. We’ve got just a little over two weeks. And that includes the time it will take to ... put the final touches on any agreement that we might be able to reach,” Van Hollen said.
“Members are motivated by a couple of things. One is the pressure from the country watching ... [and] the feeling that Congress can’t get anything done. People would like to try and prove them wrong for the good of the country. So every member of the committee, I think, came to this task recognizing the huge obstacles, but they also go home every weekend and hear people saying they want to get it done,” he continued.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.