Washington (CNN) - As Democrats and Republicans on the "super committee" exchanged competing plans to slash the deficit, House Speaker John Boehner said he's opposed to the automatic spending cuts that would go into effect if the panel can't reach a compromise and is committed to getting a deal done by the deadline.
"I think it's important for the 'super committee' to meet its goal," Boehner said Thursday, making it clear any form of the so-called "trigger" to cut government spending is not acceptable.
In closed door meetings this week Republicans and Democrats on the twelve member bipartisan panel stepped up negotiations, putting specific offers on the table. The panel is tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next ten years. But in both cases these latest proposals, which may simply reflect opening salvos after weeks of discussions, relied on components that have kept political parties on Capitol Hill at loggerheads for years. Democrats stressed tax increases and Republicans offered deeper spending cuts and changes to entitlement programs.
Democrats on Tuesday offered a $3 trillion package that included $1.3 trillion in tax increases in return for entitlement reforms that would save as much as $500 billion over ten years.
Republicans promptly rejected that proposal. Boehner dismissed the $1.3 trillion in revenue that Democrats' plan used to cover half of the package, saying, "I don't think it's a reasonable number."
But repeatedly pressed if the GOP could accept any new revenue as part of a deal, Boehner did not answer directly, but appeared careful not to rule anything out, saying only "I'm committed to getting to an outcome."
In Wednesday's closed door session GOP members of the panel gave their counter offer - a $2.2 trillion plan. Their proposal provided for $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, including $785 billion in savings from changes to entitlement programs, a much deeper figure than Democrats proposed. The GOP offering, according to a Republican source, does not include any new tax increases, but counts on sales of federal assets, new money from selling off government controlled spectrum, and an increase in some federal user fees to come up with roughly $400 billion in revenue.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the size of the GOP package "is not enough." She criticized Republicans adding significant spending cuts she said could hurt the sluggish economy, noting "everybody has said be careful how you cut and when you cut because you may destroy the momentum for economic growth that we need to have as we go forward."
But Boehner argued the majority of the budgets cuts should come from savings from reforms to Medicare and Medicaid programs that Democrats have been reluctant to change significantly.
"I think when you look at what's yet to be done by the super committee almost all of that's going to fall in the area I think of mandatory spending, which is more than two-thirds of the budget and it's time for us to do our work there," Boehner said.
One possible scenario is that the "super committee" would release its plan with an overall number for deficit reductions, but direct relevant Congressional committees to work out any details for the complicated task of tax reform.
Boehner backed this notion, saying Thursday, "I've never believed that the 'super committee' could rewrite the tax code. I think that's the appropriate role of the committee process in the House and Senate, and I would expect it would stay that way."
But both sides agree the clock is ticking and time is short for the joint select committee to come out with its recommendations.
A group of about 100 House members, almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans is circulating a letter they plan to release next week that urges the panel to aim for a large deficit reduction deal on the order of $4 trillion.
Boehner admitted the issues are tough, telling reporters Thursday, "I'm not surprised that we're having some difficulty because this isn't easy."
The deadline for a vote on a plan in the "super committee" is November 23rd, but Pelosi appeared impatient, saying, "let's just get right to it. I don't know why we have to go until the 23rd."
–CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report