Bipartisan House group presses 'super committee' to 'go big'
November 2nd, 2011
05:51 PM ET
2 years ago

Bipartisan House group presses 'super committee' to 'go big'

Washington (CNN) - A bipartisan group of 100 House Republicans and Democrats is urging the super committee to "go big," and put aside fights over taxes increases and entitlement cuts and come together on a $4 trillion deal to reduce the nation's deficit.

"To succeed, all options for mandatory and discretionary spending and revenues must be on the table," said a letter sent Wednesday from a diverse cross section of House members.

Forty Republicans signed the letter, and the group ranged from moderates like Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, to conservatives like Rep Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, freshman Rep Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, who ran as a "tea party" candidate, to 2012 presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

While it's notable that more than three dozen Republicans went on the record arguing revenues need to be part of a debt deal, the letter was deliberately thin on details on what the signatories believe amounts to a "tax hike" versus new tax revenue. Similarly it did not give specific prescriptions on how to come up with major savings from programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

When pressed on what form of tax revenues the GOP could accept, Idaho Republican Mike Simpson, who helped organize the effort, said he wouldn't get into any specifics, leaving those to the super committee, but also stressed, "I'm not ruling out anything."

Liberal Democrat Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont, warned those on the left who were worried about major changes to entitlement programs that it was time to work across the aisle.

"Progressives must be in the middle of the debate not on the sidelines, if we're going to protect our priorities, especially Medicare," Welch said.

The three paragraph letter stated that a large deal was the necessary to stabilize the nation's debt, but didn't outline how to get there. But its closing line to the "super committee" pledging "we are prepared to support you in this effort" was a signal to those on the panel that there will be cover from across the political spectrum if they sign onto a deal larger than the $1.2 trillion they are charged with finding.

North Carolina Rep Heath Shuler, who worked with Simpson on the letter and heads a group of conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats, said he's willing to lose his seat over the vote on a comprehensive deal to slash the deficit.

"I am willing to give up anything, including my next election, if what we are doing today gives us that opportunity for success for tomorrow for the next generation," Schuler said.

LaTourette urged "the fringes of both parties" to stop clinging to strongly help positions and move toward compromise.

"When this big deal comes out any member can find ten, twenty, thirty reasons to say no but it is now time for the ostriches to pull their heads out of the sand, the holier than thou crowd to get off their horses and the sacred cows to be made into hamburger and we need to get this thing done in a big way."

Despite the rare picture of Republicans and Democrats standing shoulder to shoulder at a press conference on Capitol Hill, the reality is that the 100 signatories on the letter make up less than one quarter of the total number of the House and less than half of the 218 votes any debt deal will need to pass the House later this year.

But Simpson argued that the political lines drawn around these issues made it surprising they could get 100 members to go public at all. "It's a risk for Republicans to sign this because the word revenue is in there. It is a risk for Democrats to sign this because the word mandatory spending is in there." But the Idaho Republican maintained there was an "overwhelming majority" in Congress for a big debt reduction plan.

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell met with the six Republicans on the panel on Wednesday afternoon, and Boehner said he's trying to support efforts to come up with a plan.

"The crushing debt and deficit of our government is like a wet blanket over our economy, Boehner said, adding, They've got a tough job to do and I'm going to do everything I can to help them."

On Tuesday the super committee held its first public hearing after more than a month of closed door meetings. Although there are no currently scheduled meetings this week, various subgroups have been discussing a range of options. The bipartisan panel has a deadline of November 23rd for voting on a proposal.


Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit commission
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Edward Lee

    Both cuts to mandatory spending and increases to taxes were available to the supercommittee. The letter does not grant them any new powers.

    The main difference is that the signers are pushing for at least $4 trillion of deficit savings, which is in line with the original requirement of "saving at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years."

    November 2, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  2. CA Dream USA

    Let's see if this get's anywhere

    November 2, 2011 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  3. Four and The Door

    The Republican House already has a victory just getting the commission created. Even getting Democrats to talk about addressing the federal debt is a significant turnaround to the benefit of the economy and All Americans now and in the future. We can do better than the direction we have been on.

    November 2, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. Larry L

    They won't have the character or the stones to make hard choices without consulting the power-brokers for permission.

    November 2, 2011 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  5. NoTags

    How can you possibly "go big" when every Republican on the committee signed Grover Norquist's pledge?

    It's time for the American people to understand that every member of Congress that signed Norquist's pledge of allegiance owe their allegiance to Norquist, NOT to the people.

    Defeat ALL Norquist pledge signers in 2012!

    November 2, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  6. gt

    heath shuler is the type of leaders we need... america can handel what needs to be done..good job congress.. now super 6 do the right thing

    November 2, 2011 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  7. Debbie

    The Super Committee was and is DOA. The Bipartisan House group presses 'super committee' to 'go big' maybe are getting a glimmer that their politics as usual is not working for the voting public. I hope they all DEM/GOP/TEA lose their jobs in 2012. That's if the USA even exists in 2012. Currently we are no longer a democratic republic but a monied plutocracy. By 2012 we could continue as a plutocracy, be a colony of China or with God's help the 99% can take back our democratic republic. There is no hope for Congress they are a major fail.

    November 2, 2011 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |