With just two weeks left to craft a deficit reduction package, members of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction remain far from a deal, this according to both Democratic and Republican aides close to the negotiations.
Two days after Republicans on the so-called super committee, led by Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, offered a $1.5 trillion package that included, for the first time, new tax revenue to the tune of about $300 billion, Democrats are rejecting the offer.
"We have a big gap with respect to where we are on revenue," panel Democrat John Kerry told a handful of reporters Wednesday morning. "The Toomey approach will not work. We've told them that very directly. We have to find a different way to come at it."
The senior Massachusetts senator met behind closed doors in his third floor Capitol office Tuesday night with a key bipartisan core group from the committee, including Toomey, Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Dave Camp, R-Mich., Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
"This is not complicated. They've got to put real revenue on the table that helps us get the job done," Kerry said, adding that he is "still hopeful" a deal can be reached by November 23.
In reality, that deadline will hit even sooner, though. The budget crunchers at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) must get a complete product soon, in order to have time to analyze and score a bill for floor consideration. Super committee aides say CBO must then publish that score by November 21.
Asked if Democrats had made a counter-offer to the Toomey proposal, Kerry said he would give no details "on anything we've offered or they've offered."