One of the Democrats participating in bipartisan debt discussions said he’s “very disappointed” his Republican counterpart has ditched negotiations over an impasse on taxes, but says he hopes to continue working with the group in a different context.
He also made an impassioned case that new tax revenues be part of any deal to raise the debt limit that involves significant cuts to entitlement programs.
“I’m disappointed that Leader Cantor’s withdrawn,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus during a hearing on health care spending. “I think we should stay at the table. I think we should keep working, difficult as it is, and try to balance between Medicare cuts — additional Medicare cuts — so long as there is commensurate additional revenue. We need balance here.”
Baucus made clear that the talks frayed over Democrats’ insistence that tax increases of some sort be part of the final deal.
“The largest deficit reduction measures in the post-World War II era both had significant revenue increases. About one-half the total amount of deficit reduction in each bill,” Baucus said. “I think we can raise revenues and have a positive economic outcome. Revenue increases in the 90s gave us 23 million new jobs. The longest economic expansion in U.S. history and a balanced budget.”
After the hearing, reporters caught up with Baucus, who didn’t sound too optimistic.
“I just hope we continue meeting and find other ways to skin this cat by meeting maybe some way other than we have been meeting,” Baucus said. “I don’t know. We just have to keep working.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.