Bloomberg News

Supercommittee Reality Is Overtaking Hope, Hensarling Says

November 20, 2011

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The congressional supercommittee faces a “daunting challenge” to meet its Nov. 23 deadline, Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the panel’s Republican co-chairman, said today.

“Nobody wants to give up hope,” Hensarling said on the “Fox News Sunday” program. “Reality is, to some extent, starting to overtake hope.”

Hensarling said that the 12-member committee, which hasn’t yet been able to reach agreement on at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings, would work up until its deadline and that there were no plans in place now for an announcement of failure.

“It’s a daunting challenge, no doubt about it,” he said.

Asked whether Republicans would put forward a new offer in a last-ditch effort to get a deal before the deadline, Hensarling said members of his party were willing to work on any of the “multiple frameworks” they had put on the table already.

“If there is no agreement, the nation is still going to end up with what Republicans said, and that is there will still be a dollar of spending reduction for every dollar increase in the debt ceiling,” he said.

Hensarling said he hoped the across-the-board cuts required if no deal is reached would be altered to spare defense. Congress, he said, will have 13 months to make sure the reductions happen “in a smarter, more prudent fashion.”

If the supercommittee fails, he said, “the American people are still going to get the deficit reduction that was contemplated under the law, but it is a huge blown opportunity.”

Revenue Increases

Hensarling said he was open to some revenue increases.

“I’m not trying to tax the wealthy into oblivion,” he said. “I’d like to take away the bailouts. I’d like to take away the subsidies. I’d like to take away the special interest deductions, but most importantly I want to create jobs for the American people.”

He said he didn’t “understand the economics that says that if we raise taxes on my employer or on my boss, that somehow they’re going to go out and hire my unemployed brother-in-law.”

Hensarling said Democrats in talks haven’t been willing “to put a proposal on the table that actually solves the problem” of curbing growth in spending on entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security.

Democrats have yet to coalesce around a plan, Hensarling said. “It’s a little hard for us to negotiate with them when they’re still negotiating with themselves,” he said.

--Editors: Leslie Hoffecker, Ann Hughey

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Hunter in Washington at khunter9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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