Democrats present deficit offer

November 9, 2011 - 6:00 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats on Congress' supercommittee secretly presented Republicans with a revised deficit-cutting proposal earlier this week that calls for a blend of $1 trillion in spending cuts and $1 trillion in higher tax revenue over the next decade, officials said Wednesday.

The previously undisclosed offer scaled back an earlier Democratic demand for $1.3 trillion in higher taxes, a concession to Republicans. At the same time it jettisoned a plan to slow the growth in future cost-of-living increases in Social Security benefits, a provision liberal Democrats oppose.

The one-page proposal was handed to Republicans at a meeting Monday night attended by some but not all members of the supercommittee. At the same session, GOP lawmakers in attendance advanced a revised proposal of their own that signaled for the first time that they would be willing to accept higher revenues as part of a plan to cut deficits over the next decade.

Given the unusual secrecy of the meeting and the committee's Nov. 23 deadline, it appeared that the pace of activity on the panel was accelerating. Less clear was whether there was still time to bridge enormous differences on priorities, or whether each side was laying the groundwork for trying to blame the other in case gridlock triumphs.

The committee, comprising six Republicans and six Democrats, has been working for weeks. Evidence of progress has been scarce, with Republicans demanding large cuts in benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare, while Democrats pressed for additional tax revenue as a condition for agreeing to make deep spending cuts.