GOP's Rep. Dave Camp envisions inclusive path to a fiscal 'bargain'
Dave Camp, House Ways and Means Committee chairman, said Thursday that involving more members of Congress in budgeting and deficit-cutting could yield, if not a 'grand bargain,' at least a modest deal.
The next round of "grand bargain" fiscal negotiations is going on right in front of the public’s eyes.Skip to next paragraph
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In committee rooms across Capitol Hill, lawmakers are digging in on the details of tax reform and the federal budget, holding hearings and discussing issues from the tax code to changes in entitlement programs. It's a public airing of the debate over the federal government's taxing and spending priorities, a stark contrast to the behind-closed-doors negotiations among a select few that have marked recent attempts to amend fiscal policy in the United States.
Such a process, some leading lawmakers believe, could help Washington move toward a modest deal among the GOP-led House, the Democratic-led Senate, and President Obama to trim spending, tweak Social Security or Medicare, and head off yet another D.C.-driven crisis – such as a clenched-jaw trip to the fiscal brink this summer when Congress must again confront raising the national debt ceiling.
Rep. Dave Camp (R) of Michigan, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is one of those believers.
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“I think you build consensus on big things from the committee level up, from the ground up. You need members to be involved,” said Representative Camp at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor on Thursday.
There’s a very particular reason Congress is churning its legislative gears ahead of fiscal negotiations to come, instead of waiting for a small crew of lawmakers to sort things out. Grand-bargain-by-select-committees "haven't worked very well," Camp said wryly.
Look at the roster of those leading the fiscal battle on both sides: Sen. Patty Murray (D) of Washington and Sen. Max Baucus (D) of Montana in the Senate and Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin and Representative Camp in the House. What do those members have in common? A lot of time spent in closed-door, small-group negotiations, from the Simpson-Bowles commission on deficit reduction back in 2009 to the so-called supercommittee tasked in 2010 with heading off the "sequester."
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