The Super Congress is getting far less super and far more catfood as the deadline for a plan gets closer. While the lead Republican on the committee says Republicans have gone as far as they're willing to go and are already planning to sabotage the trigger if a deal isn't reached, Democrats are talking about conceding more.
Here's Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Republican co-chair of the committee, on the "Kudlow Report" last night.
HENSARLING: But listen, any penny of increased static revenue is a step in the wrong direction. We can only balance that with pro-growth reforms, and frankly the Democrats have never agreed to that. So I don’t know how many times I can tell you, that agreement’s not going to happen.
KUDLOW: I appreciate the honesty.
They won't take one penny of revenue that comes from tax increases on rich people. That's what he means by static revenue; taxes that actually, predictably come into the Treasury. In other words, the permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts is their bottom line. And why wouldn't Hensarling take that approach? He reportedly got a standing ovation from his Republican colleagues when he presented it.
But that's not all Hensarling said last night. He also said that if Democrats resist his plan and the Super Congress fails, Republicans will just renege on the agreement that created the committee in the first place, and not allow defense cuts, taking it from elsewhere.
"Frankly, half of [the automatic cuts] is aimed at national security," Hensarling added. "Leon Panetta, our Secretary of Defense says that will hollow out our defense. So number one I would be committed to keeping the $1.2 [trillion in automatic cuts]. We’ve got 13 months to find a smarter way to do it."
Gee, thanks Panetta, for providing that GOP talking point. So Republicans are deliberately sabotaging the deal. Meanwhile, Democrats are weighing scaling back their revenue demands. Because nothing says bipartisan negotiations like Democrats giving concessions to intractable Republicans.
Democratic committee member Rep. James Clyburn had it right when he dismissed the Republicans' supposed revenue offer of $300 billion: "It creates new revenue? You're putting $300 billion on the table, and you're taking $800 billion off the table. I don't consider that new revenue. That's a $500 billion hole. So how can you take that seriously?"
No, Democrats, don't take that or anything else the Republicans offer seriously (and neither should the traditional media, but good luck with that). Once again, Republicans are perfectly willing to blow this whole process to hell. Luckily this time, unlike with the debt ceiling, it doesn't matter if they do. Failure is entirely an option. At this point, Republicans, through Hensarling, have given Democrats the perfect opportunity to demand the moon (or ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, for a start) and walk away if Republicans don't bend. The last thing they should be doing at this point is offering up more concessions on taxes (and the corollary of more spending cuts).