Nine days left: Has the debt 'super committee' found the bipartisan middle?
The deficit-reduction 'super committee' has nine days to get the nation’s fiscal house in order. The closed-door sessions have produced a surprise – the revival of a nearly defunct bipartisan center.
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“From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes, and luxury yachts to subsidies for their ranches and estates, the government is subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous,” Senator Coburn said in a statement. “Multi-millionaires are even receiving government checks for not working.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Who's who on the US deficit super committee
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On the House side, the effort is led by Reps. Mike Simpson (R) of Idaho and Heath Shuler (D) of North Carolina. On Nov. 2, they released a letter signed by 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans urging the joint committee to aim for $4 trillion in deficit reduction, including tax hikes and cuts to entitlements.
“I am so proud of all of my colleagues who signed this letter for their courage to put country before political parties and do what is right for the fiscal future of our nation,” said Congressman Shuler in a statement.
Breaking partisan lines on taxes is especially tough on Republicans.
All but six House Republicans have signed a pledge by the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) that commits them to opposing all tax increases, including cuts to tax breaks that are not entirely offset by rate cuts elsewhere. The Toomey plan violates the letter of that pledge. So does the call by 40 House Republicans for the super committee to consider taxes as part of a “go big” deficit-reduction plan.
“Borrowing money is a tax on future generations,” says Rep. Steve LaTourette (R) of Ohio, who says he no longer considers himself bound by a pledge he signed in 1994. “We’re on a path to owe more than $20 trillion.”
The anti-tax pledge has been a litmus test for Republicans candidates since 1986, especially in primary elections. GOP leaders, for the most part, have avoided commenting on the new rift in their ranks on raising taxes to curb deficits.
Asked about members who no longer want to be bound by the ATR pledge, House majority leader Eric Cantor told reporters on Monday: “It is not about [ATR president] Grover Norquist. It is about commitments that people make to the electorate that they represent, to the people that sent them here. That is what it is about. So again, your words should be good to your constituents and that is what we are dealing with here.”
In an opinion essay in USA Today posted on Sunday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R) of Ohio, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, a caucus for House conservatives, opposed any move to include tax hikes in a deficit deal.
“Balance doesn't mean ‘half-right, half-wrong,’ " he wrote. “It means you don't fall over. Our economy will have an even tougher time catching its balance if Washington raises taxes.”
Meanwhile, Democrats are also grappling with the prospect of a tough vote to cut entitlement spending. Protecting entitlements has been a core campaign theme for Democrats in recent campaign cycles, and leaders had been gearing up to make it a defining point in the 2012 campaign.
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