House GOP leader says deficit deal likely
Washington ? Sidestepping controversy, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., declined to take sides Monday on a proposal for higher tax revenues backed by fellow Republicans on Congress’ supercommittee yet expressed confidence the panel would agree on a deficit-reduction plan of at least $1.2 trillion by a Nov. 23 deadline.
A proposal for $300 billion in higher taxes has stirred grumbling within the ranks of congressional Republicans, for whom opposition to such measures has been political bedrock for more than two decades.
One prominent conservative, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, said in a published commentary during the day that “our economy will have an even tougher time catching its balance if Washington” raises taxes. Separately, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a contender for the GOP presidential nomination, said while campaigning in Iowa, “If this supercommittee comes out with a tax increase, I will do everything in my power to defeat its proposal.”
Additionally, officials said that Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who outlined the plan last week in a closed-door meeting of four Republicans and three Democrats, has encountered criticism from fellow conservatives despite strong credentials as an opponent of higher taxes. “There’s been a little bit, but it’s been pretty muted,” his spokeswoman, Nachama Soloveichik, said of the response.
Cantor’s spokeswoman turned aside several emailed requests for the majority leader’s views on the proposal. She said he hadn’t seen the plan, and she referred to his comments at a news conference earlier in the day when he told reporters, “I’m not going to be opining as to any reports, hypotheticals or anything connected with their work.”
Despite that pledge, Cantor was bullish in predicting agreement before the deadline and adding that a fallback requirement to cut $1.2 trillion from domestic and defense programs wouldn’t be triggered.