Upton ‘bitterly disappointed’ by super committee stalmatePublished 10:01pm Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Although he is “bitterly disappointed” that Congress’ Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction was unable to reach an agreement to make a dent in a national debt that is at $15 trillion, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton believes the three months of negotiations weren’t a complete failure.
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Upton, R-St. Joseph, and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, both members of the 12-member bipartisan panel charged with slashing $1.2 trillion in government spending over the next decade, said the committee came close to a deal on several occasions.
“Everything was really on the table. But it seemed like every time we were getting close, all of a sudden the football was moved,” Upton said, referencing Democratic members of the committee. “It was like Lucy was taking the football away.”
One of the main blockades in negotiations, according to Camp, was a Democratic proposal to raise taxes by $1 trillion.
The so-called super committee’s failure to reach an agreement triggers about $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts in military and domestic government program spending over nine years, starting in 2013.
This gives Congress 13 months to reach a deal to replace the automatic cuts. Upton says legislators will have to get busy after their Thanksgiving recess. He said lawmakers can’t wait until after the election to get a deal done.
“If you wait until after the election, that’s only a month before the sequestration cuts come into play,” he said. “You will have a lame duck Congress to deal with it.”
Upton, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the “hundreds and hundreds of hours” he and the rest of the committee spent in negotiations did produce some building blocks toward agreement.
Camp said one area of bipartisan agreement could be in tax reform, “the kind that would simplify our code, bring our code more in line with what the rest of the world is doing.”
Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he will continue to work with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to reach agreement on tax reform.
Upton said the work between members of opposing parties in the super committee will go a long way in future talks.
“We’ve fostered some relationships that are not going to go away,” Upton said.
But what specifically Congress is going to do from here is unclear, the legislators said.
“I’m not willing to make a commitment on what Congress will do at this point,” Camp said. “We have a lot of good ideas on the shelf.”
On Monday, with the deadline to reach an agreement quickly approaching, Upton spent several hours with Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and other committee members, trying to reach an 11th hour compromise.
Upton said the Republicans “gave in on a number of different fronts” in hopes of reaching a compromise.
“For a little while, I thought we were close,” Upton said.
“It would have taken a herculean effort.”
What they are saying on the Super Committee Stalemate…
Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph: “Disappointment does not begin to describe how I feel…I am bitterly disappointed we did not find an agreement.”
Sen. Carl Levin: “For months, I have warned that depending solely on spending cuts to address the deficit, without restoring revenue, would fail to achieve real deficit reduction while endangering important commitments to American families and the national defense…I am saddened that the Republican refusal to meaningfully address our revenue shortfall now threatens draconian cuts to important defense and domestic programs.”
Upton: “Everything was really on the table. But it seemed like every time we were getting close, all of a sudden the football was moved. It was like Lucy was taking away the football.”
Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland: “We never really were able to get past this issue of $1 trillion in tax increases.”
President Barack Obama: “Many Democrats were willing to put politics aside and commit to reasonable adjustments…There’s still too many Republicans in Congress that have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise…”