On Capitol Hill, 12 members of the so-called bipartisan super committee continue to try to hammer out a deal to achieve $1.2 trillion in debt cuts by next Wednesday. For weeks now, there's been little optimism about a deal being reached, but today there are signs of compromise. Republicans appear to be giving ground on their opposition to new tax revenue and the House and Senate leadership have met. Alex Bolton, Senior Staff Writer for The Hill, weighs in on whether this will be enough to get a deal done.
What’s been the breakthrough in the super commitee gridlock?
It came last week when Republicans offered a package which would raise $300 billion in new net tax revenues. There's been debate since then about how serious the proposal really is. Grover Norquist, the noted anti-tax advocate, told The Hill last night that Republican leaders in the Senate and House have assured him that they will not raise taxes.
However, Jeb Hensarling, the Republican co-chairman of the super committee, met with House Republicans today and told them to brace for potential tax raises.
"That's a sign that the Republicans may be serious about raising tax revenues as part of a tax reduction deal," says Bolton. "If that's the case, that is a glimmer of hope for compromise."
The fight over tax revenues have been the chief obstacle to getting a deal. If the Republicans are giving ground there, Bolton says, then there could be a deal by Wednesday.
Does the meeting between House Leader John Boehner and Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid signal a new phase?
The meeting raised a lot of eyebrows on Capitol Hill, according to Bolton. Those two negotiated the deal to avoid the government shutdown in April. They also negotiated the deal to raise the debt limit. To have Reid and Boehner getting together so close to the super committee deadline to raise the debt limit is being taken as a sign that they are getting more involved.
Reid told reporters that its still up to the super committee members to come up with a deal. He said he doesn't even know what the latest GOP proposal is.
"You have to take that denial with a grain of salt," says Bolton. "Patty Murray, the Democratic co-chairwoman of the super committee, has been keeping Reid in the loop and up to date, so he knows exactly what is happening."
What’s the likely fallout if no deal is reached?
There would be about $500 billion in cuts to defense programs and another $500 billion in cuts to non-defense programs.
"Republicans are beginning to say that those cuts would be unacceptable, and they are beginning to rally the troops to try and unwind those cuts."
Reid made a very strong statement -- he would not let Republicans block the cuts to defense programs and let non-defense discretionary programs bear the brunt of those cuts.