KY congressmen point fingers over supercommittee's failure and predict tough calls to come

11/21/2011 06:54 PM

The blame game between Republicans and Democrats over the failure of the 12-member “supercommittee’ trickled down to Kentucky on Monday.

Democrats accused Republicans of being inflexible over raising taxes on the wealthiest — or at least ending the Bush-era tax cuts. And Republicans charged that Democrats weren’t serious about revamping costly programs like Medicaid and Medicare. That would have included a GOP proposal to reduce Medicare and Social Security benefits for the wealthiest Americans.

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville said he was never optimistic that the six Republicans and six Democrats could come up with ways to cut at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years.

He told reporters Monday at an appearance at a job fair in Louisville that Republicans didn’t give the negotiations a fair shot from the beginning. And he said those members of Congress who signed the No Tax pledge by Grover Norquist

The original provision that created the supercommittee included a plan B that calls for $1.2 trillion in cuts starting in 2013 in which half comes from the Department of Defense.

Yarmuth said Congress could come back and reverse that.

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, issued a statement saying the failure was “disappointing” but added that the $1.2 trillion in cuts will happen.

“The good news is that even without an agreement, $1.2 trillion will still be cut from the deficit,” he said. “Now it falls on the President to ensure that the defense cuts he insisted upon do not undermine national security, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned.

McConnell repeated what several Republican members of the supercommittee said on the Sunday talk shows: that Democrats were to blame.

“While Democrats insisted on a trillion-dollar tax hike and hundreds of billions of dollars in new stimulus spending, Republicans focused on pro-growth tax reform, protecting Medicare and Medicaid, and reducing Washington spending,” McConnell said in a lengthy statement. “Crucially, Republicans also proposed reducing government benefits to the wealthiest Americans.”

McConnell said the GOP philosophy is that the best way to “ensure that Washington doesn’t waste more taxpayer money is to give less of it away to those who don’t need it—not to take more from taxpayers and hope for the best.”

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in an interview that he didn’t think the supercommittee’s failure would disrupt the markets or the economy too much because most people were believed the group would fall short.

Rogers said now the question is whether Congress comes back and alters the mandate for deep cuts to the U.S. military.

(Watch Pure Politics on Tuesday at 7 p.m. EST/6 Central on Insight’s cn|2 for the full interview with Rogers, who answers questions about the effect of the supercommittee’s failure on the 2013 budget, the issue of taxes and much more.)


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.