- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2011

The Senate’s No. 3 Democrat said Monday he thinks the supercommittee won’t reach its goal of finding significant budget savings, asserting that Republicans’ unwillingness to compromise is to blame.

“I don’t think the gang of - the supercommittee - is going to succeed because our Republican colleagues have said no net revenues,” said New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

When asked directly whether he thought a deal would be reached “at the end of the day,” the senator flatly said, “No.”

Mr. Schumer added that while Democrats are “willing to move to the middle” for a deal, Republicans aren’t.

The 12-member bipartisan committee is tasked by Nov. 23 to find ways to lower the debt by $1.5 trillion. Failure would trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts, with about half directed at the Pentagon.

The biggest roadblock facing the panel is tax reform. Democrats have pushed for increased tax revenue, while Republicans have been steadfast in their opposition to any increase in net tax revenue.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, has said he wants to see new revenue generated through streamlining the tax code and cutting rates, which he said will produce more money.

“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,” said Mr. Boehner on ABC’s “This Week” program Sunday. “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.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat and supercommittee member, said he doesn’t think the panel will ask for a deadline extension.

“We’ll know by the deadline whether we’re able to reach an agreement,” said Mr. Van Hollen on the MSNBC show Monday. “More time won’t get us there, you know, unless we were really, really close. But no, we’re not talking about an extension.”

Mr. Van Hollen said there are three basic outside factors motivating the panel to act: Constituent angst, fear that Wall Street could go into a tailspin if the panel fails, and the automatic spending cuts that would be triggered if the members don’t reach a deal - a scenario many lawmakers worry would undermine the Pentagon and other federal agencies.

“So an agreement would be obviously the best solution, but we’re trying in a very short time to overcome constraints that the Congress has not been able to overcome in a much longer period of time,” Mr. Van Hollen said. “But we’re working hard to do that.”

The panel began meeting in early September - mostly in secret - but hasn’t gathered collectively in private in more than a week and doesn’t appear to be close to deal.

The federal debt was $14.9 trillion as of Friday. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in a March analysis of the president’s 2012 budget, estimated the debt would swell to $27.6 trillion by 2021.

CBO estimates released Monday show that the federal government ran a $95 billion deficit in October, the first month of the new fiscal year, marking the 37th straight month the government has been in the red.

Still, that deficit was lower than the October 2010 gap, mainly because of better revenue figures as the economy ticks up slightly.

• Stephen Dinan contributed to this article.



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