Top Senate Democrat belittles 'phony' GOP tax concessions
November 10th, 2011
03:36 PM ET
3 years ago

Top Senate Democrat belittles 'phony' GOP tax concessions

Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dismissed a recent GOP deficit reduction plan Thursday, saying it isn't a serious attempt at compromise despite the tax increases it includes.

Asked if he was encouraged by negotiations among members of the congressional "super committee" that is trying to forge a debt-reduction agreement, the Nevada Democrat curtly told CNN: "With that phony deal the Republicans offered? No."

In a separate interview with CNN, the panel's Republican co-chairman appeared disturbed when told about Reid's comments, and indicated he thinks it is increasingly apparent the Senate majority leader does not want to help broker a deal.

"If (Reid) wants to be helpful he can be helpful," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas. "If he doesn't want to be helpful, apparently he's not going to be helpful."

Members of the 12-member super committee have until November 23 to reach an agreement on at least $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade. If they do so, Congress will vote on the package before Christmas.

If a majority on the panel - composed of six Democrats and six Republicans - fails to reach an agreement, significant automatic spending cuts are scheduled to take effect starting in 2013.

Earlier Thursday, Hensarling insisted congressional Republicans had made "major" concessions on taxes, and criticized his Democratic counterparts for allegedly failing to make a similar move by proposing cuts in popular entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

"This is not part of a blame game," the congressman told reporters. But "the (major) drivers" of Washington's skyrocketing spending are Medicare and Medicaid, and "unless we fundamentally address that we will fail in our statutory duty."

Negotiators "remain hopeful," Hensarling insisted. "The stakes are too high for our economy to just throw up our hands."

Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, also a super committee member, insisted that members of his party are working with the Republicans.

"We are talking together. We are negotiating. It is ongoing," Baucus said. "Any statement that we've broken off is not true. It is not true. We are working together."

While Republicans claim Democrats are failing to give ground on entitlements, Democrats say Republicans haven't done nearly enough to help generate new revenue from the wealthy.

Republicans led by Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania put forward a blueprint earlier this week that would cap individual deductions while cutting all six income tax rates by roughly 20%. Under the proposal, the top rate would fall from 35% to 28%.

Toomey's proposed cap on deductions represents a notable shift for congressional Republicans, who have traditionally opposed anything that might increase tax payments.
The $1.4 trillion GOP plan includes $500 billion in new revenue, according to a Republican aide.

While Reid appeared to dismiss the plan on Thursday, the Senate's second-highest ranking Democrat, Richard Durbin of Illinois, told reporters on Wednesday that the GOP's willingness to put tax increases on the table was a "breakthrough."

Democrats on the panel have countered with a $2.3 billion deficit reduction package, including $1 trillion in tax revenue, $1 trillion in spending cuts, and $300 billion in interest savings, according to a copy of the plan obtained by CNN.

Democrats pushed earlier for $1.3 trillion in new revenue.

– CNN's Kate Bolduan and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit • Harry Reid • Republicans • Taxes
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. The Greedy Old Pigs have lost their minds!

    conservativeforAmerica, there were so many lies and so much misinformation in your long post the best response is to tell you (and anyone else who's interested) that there is a good recent article you can find online about how this year's group of GOPB Klown Kandidates would flunk Econ 101 in college. Based on what you've posted, you would as well, though perhaps you got lucky with an online diploma mill.

    November 10, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Annie, Atlanta

    Though I understand that he had to do it in order to extend unemployment benefits so people could provide themselves and their families with food and shelter, giving in to the bullying tactics of the GOP to extend the Bush tax cuts was a huge mistake. Though, honestly, I don't know how else it could have been handled. Very sad, for all of us.

    November 10, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Reid is the biggest liar in the Congress. He is worse than Pelosi, and that's saying something.

    He has been totally obstructive in the Senate all year, blocking or just outright tabling, any consideration, of House bills. Reid is a total fraud.

    November 10, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. The Greedy Old PIgs have gone insane!

    Ezequias, you must have missed all subsidies for the wealthy, like corporate welfare and useless tax cuts for the 1%, that your GOBP deathcult has been shoveling out for decades. You may want to revisit that whole "strong connection with the reality of things" yourself.

    November 10, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    Herman Cain is using Chile as a model: since when do we use banana republics as economic models, unless we want to deliberately gut the middle class even more?

    November 10, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. CAW in MD

    conservativeforAmerica and Ezequias - okay, if businesses are "10 times more likely" to hire more people and give raises if they have money, then how do you explain that businesses today are sitting on $2 trillion, and aren't doing either of those things? If tax cuts for the wealthy are the elixir of job life, then the last 10 years should have been a powerhouse of job growth. How do you explain that it wasn't?

    Businesses are refusing to put money back into the economy, so the economy sputters. Businesses blame uncertainty and regulation, but that's ridiculous - uncertainty and regulation haven't been invented in the past 3 years, it's always been a fact of life. You factor those in as business expenses, then you get on with it. The real uncertainty is on the workers - they are either unemployed or scared to death they will be. If businesses took some steps to fix THAT uncertainty, the economy will rebound nicely.

    November 10, 2011 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. CAW in MD

    Rick McDaniel - so if Republicans require 60 votes for anything, that's just doing their patriotic duty, but if Harry Reid doesn't bring up a bill he knows isn't going to pass the Senate, then he's a total fraud.

    And of course Republican majority leaders never have left Democratic bills that have been passed to die. I'm sure that's never happened. They've never said something like "I'm only going to bring bills to the floor that have a majority of Republican support", like Dennis Hastert. Because that would ruin a good story about how Republicans are virtuous and Democrats are evil.

    Get a clue from the clue bag. Both sides do this when they are in power. It's called "politics". You should look it up sometime.

    November 10, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. SDB

    It's all gamesmanship from both sides. I'd bet good money that no deal will be reached by Nov 23rd, then they will override the automatic cuts and extend the timeline into perpetuity. They are all profiting from the status quo... so what incentive is there to change it.

    November 10, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. The Greedy Old Pigs are insane!

    "He has been totally obstructive in the Senate all year, blocking or just outright tabling, any consideration, of House bills. Reid is a total fraud."

    You really have no clue about anything related to government, do you? Like what a Senate or House leader even does? Reid is exercising his perogatives, and has brought GOBP bills to the floor from time to time. If the GOBP deathcult would return to sanity and the center I'm sure he would allow more. Right now, though, this is one of the few levers he has to respond to the deathcult's habitual obstruction.

    November 10, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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