Washington (CNN) - The Senate's number two Democrat said Wednesday the surprising proposal this week by Republicans to include tax increases for the first time as part of a deficit-reduction deal might be a "breakthrough" that could lead to a hard-sought agreement in the congressional super committee.
The reaction from Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois - just two weeks to the day before the committee's November 23 deadline - was in sharp contrast to the response from other top Democrats who panned the proposal. Democratic aides described it as a "joke" aimed more at lowering income rates for the wealthy than raising revenue to pay down the debt.
Democrats also charged the sudden change on tax increases was a public relations effort by Republicans because they are anxious they will be blamed if the super committee fails to agree to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion by November 23.
"I assume good faith. I think that's the best starting point," Durbin told reporters. "I assume what we heard from the Republicans is a breakthrough that can lead to an agreement and that's what we need."
Durbin didn't endorse the specific GOP offer - which would raise hundreds of billions of dollars by eliminating many deductions for individuals from the tax code while lowering income rates for all taxpayers - but said he was "definitely" encouraged that Republicans had put tax increases on the table.
"The fact that some Republicans have stepped forward to talk about revenue I think is an invitation for Democrats to step forward and talk about entitlement reform as well as spending cuts. Therein lies the core of an agreement," he said. "I'm glad the conversation is under way."
Durbin has long pushed for a bipartisan deal to tackle the debt. He was on President Barack Obama's deficit reduction commission and is a member of the so-called "gang of six," that worked for months to marry Republican and Democratic ideas for deficit reduction.
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, also said he was encouraged by the Republicans' shift because, "failure is not an option."
"Republicans have put taxes on the table. Democrats have put entitlements on the table. They both need to put more of each on the table and get a result," he said while sitting next to Durbin at a press event to talk about a different subject.
"I'm sure the Republicans don't like all the entitlement proposals the Democrats are willing to do," Alexander said. "I'm sure the Democrats don't like all the revenue proposals the Republicans are willing to do. But there is a lot of room to get a result."
Should the super committee fail to reach a deal by its deadline, it would trigger $1.2 trillion in across the board cuts from defense and non-discretionary spending.
Democratic aides described it as a "joke" aimed more at lowering income rates for the wealthy than raising revenue to pay down the debt.
I think the aides are more on the ball on this than pie-in-the-sky Durbin.
Come on dude, you're going to fall for the old bait-and-switch....AGAIN?
They've been giving the country these fake come-hither looks only to blow us off at the 11th hour AFTER we've conceded to all of their demands of course.
I hope you're right in your HOPES Durbin, but my money is on the aides' take.
"pull the wool over somebody's eyes" to deceive someone in order to prevent them from knowing what you are really doing Don't let the GOP pull the wool over your eyes – ask for a list of all the hidden charges.
Did the Republicans on the super committee get an OK from Nordquist and Limbaugh before presenting the revenue increase proposal to the Democrats?
The repucks see the handwriting on the wall,even the normal republican voters will turn on them if they screw this up. See you in Nov, 2012
Haven't heard what any Rs think of this. Hhmm . . .
Maybe the GOP is finally getting it that the super-wealthy in this country are the greediest people in the world.
Budget deficits are produced by two things: Overspending and.or under-taxing.
raise the tax on rich...only way to save...o.k, good luck, Obama...god bless...
Durban must have forgot to take his meds. There was absolutely nothing in that proposal that in any way RAISES revenues. It simply shifts them even more from the top 1% down to the middle class and elderly.
DO NOT FALL FOR THIS
Until defense is put on the table all other options are meaningless. It is my understanding that we spend more on defense than all other countries put together. This combined with the waste, redundancy and and incompetence I see in DOD employees on a regular basis tells me we can afford to cut defense significantly!
TomInRochNY, you havn't heard because you only get your news from here and the NYT etc. They won't tell you that Boener and Cantor have endorsed the revenues increased in the Republican plan because its part of what most people agree needs to happen, Tax Reform. The Dems on this commitee are only interested in straight tax increases, not in real deficit reduction. They are playing politics with this simply to have something to run on next year.
There will be no deal because President Obama, Sen Schumer and the rest of the liberal Dems don't want one period.
bearced – You'll be happy to know that if the super committee fails to come to a deal the defense gets cut automatically.
This is a bait and switch, just like all the other "deals". They will agree to tax revenues, that will largely affect eh middle class and poor, and keep the Bush tax cuts FOREVER! Sorry...no go.
Durbin, you dunce, the vast majority of Americans want the same thing and its not more tax cuts for the filthy rich. They want the Bush cuts for the filthy rich to expire and the millionaires tax to be implemented. Try to keep up or your getting primaried.
Well dick all i can say is dream on! if you think taking away the very few breaks the middle class gets is a good thing...think again. you want to see ows in washington for the foreseable future go ahead and fall for the gop crap!
It will be a "breakthough" when the Bush "temporary" tax cuts for the rich that were put in place in 2001 expire- for good!
we have seen in the past that republicans in these so called bipartisan committees agree to something, then don't vote for it when it gets to the floor