Reasonable people on all sides know that tackling the nation’s long-term debt problems will require both an increase in taxes and cuts to entitlement programs. But just weeks from the committee’s deadline, Republicans continue to resist new tax revenues, and Democrats dance around the need for entitlement cuts.
And so, as the 12 stuntmen on the committee assembled for their hearing this week, it was to discuss something different: the relatively small slice of the budget known as “discretionary spending.” Even at this late stage, their comments -- in public, at least -- suggest they are less interested in agreeing than in making points.
“There has to be balance,” said Democrat co-chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
“Our entitlement spending is roughly 60 percent of the budget and growing,” countered Republican co-chair Jeb Hensarling (Texas).
“One of our major problems is the drop in revenues,” asserted Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.).
“The need to rein in mandatory spending is obviously one of the priorities that we need to address,” countered Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.).
“We need to do it, I believe, in a balanced way,” posited Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).