–House Speaker, Minority Leader Offer Little Hope For Deficit Panel
–House Speaker Boehner: Panel Blocked By Dems Intransigence On Spend
–Rep. Boehner: Has Been Working For Weeks To Get Deficit Deal
–House Minority Leader Pelosi: Panel Blocked By GOP Stance On Taxes
–Rep. Pelosi: Still Hoping GOP Will ‘Come Around’ On Tax Hikes

By John Shaw

WASHINGTON (MNI) – In back-to-back briefings Thursday, House
Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi offered
bleak assessments of the progress of Congress’s deficit panel, but each
expressed some hope the other side would make major concessions in the
coming days.

Both Boehner and Pelosi implied that if the deficit panel fails to
reach an agreement, across-the-board spending cuts would be implemented
to secure $1.2 trillion in savings over a decade.

Speaking first, Pelosi said she still wants a “big, bold and
balanced” deficit reduction agreement, but added that any agreement is
now unlikely to be “big and bold.”

“I hope it will be balanced,” she said.

Pelosi said the “stumbling block” to an agreement is Republican
intransigence on taxes.

“I’m still optimistic Republicans will come around,” on revenues,
Pelosi said with what appeared to be some sarcasm.

Pelosi said that if the deficit panel fails to reach a deficit
deal, across-the-board spending cuts must be implemented.

She said it would be a “blunt, crude way” to cut the deficit, but
added that it would ensure future deficit reduction.

“We would rather there be a better way to do this,” she said.

In a briefing after Pelosi, Boehner ripped into Democrats for
failing to offer any concrete proposals during the deficit panel talks.

“There has never been a Democratic position,” Boehner said.

Boehner said he has been working to encourage the deficit panel to
accomplish its goals for about two months,” adding that all
congressional leaders have “some responsibility” to help the deficit
panel succeed.

“The problem all year has been to get to yes,” he added, in summary
of the year-long budget negotiations.

The Speaker said there has been “exactly one offer” during the
deficit panel talks and that was made by the GOP. That offer would cut
spending by $750 billion, generate about $300 billion in revenue and
achieve about $200 billion in interest savings.

But he said that Democrats have failed to engage during the
deficit panel deliberations.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” he
said.

Boehner also appeared to signal that if the deficit panel fails,
across-the-board spending cuts must be implemented. He said the
enforcement device is “ugly,” but added “it was designed to be ugly.”

Congress’s Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is charged
to submit a report to Congress by Nov. 23, 2011 that reduces the deficit
by between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion for the 2012 and 2021 period.

The final package, if one is agreed to by the majority of the
panel’s 12 members, must be voted on without amendment by the House and
Senate by Dec. 23, 2011.

If the panel fails to agree on a spending cut package or Congress
rejects its plan, a budget enforcement trigger would secure $1.2
trillion in budget savings through across-the-board cuts.

The cuts would be equally divided between defense and non-defense
programs but would exempt Social Security, Medicaid and low-income
programs.

** Market News International Washington Bureau: (202) 371-2121 **

[TOPICS: M$U$$$,MFU$$$,MCU$$$]