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Hensarling: Still Hope for Super Committee

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said today that he hasn’t “given up hope” that the super committee in charge of restructuring the nation’s debt will meet its Nov. 23 deadline.

But the co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction suggested on CNN’s “State of the Union” that changes to the tax code may end up being punted back to Congressional committees to sort out the details as part of a “two-step process.”

The 12-member committee has just 10 days to hammer out the details of a plan in order to avert automatic spending cuts of $1.2 trillion.

“You do not sound like a man who believes you’re going to get a deal in 10 days,” host Candy Crowley said to Hensarling.

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” he replied. “It’s been a roller-coaster ride. … We haven’t given up hope. But if this was easy, the president of the United States and the Speaker of the House would have gotten it done themselves.”

Hensarling suggested that an acceptable plan to the panel’s GOP members could resemble one put forth by Alice Rivlin, a director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Bill Clinton, and former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.). The Domenici-Rivlin plan would partially privatize Medicare and reform the tax code.

The committee has a duty to “put forth legislation that addresses our long-term structural debt,” Hensarling said.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Republican super committee member Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) sounded optimistic despite the vast differences between Democrats and Republicans on the committee so far.

“The clock is running out, but it hasn’t run out yet,” the Pennsylvania lawmaker said. “We’ve got a ways to go, but I hope we can close that gap very quickly.”

Also appearing on CNN, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), both members of the bipartisan “gang of six” that proposed a solution to the debt ceiling crisis in July, seemed optimistic that a deal could be reached within the next 10 days but did not downplay the consequences if it is not.

“As the pressure builds and they get towards a deadline, I think they’ll get something done,” Coburn said.

Both Senators agreed that a successful deficit-reduction plan could come in at about $4 trillion in order to ward off ill effects in the global markets and suggested that the work done by the gang of six could be a template for legislation that could find support in the House and Senate.

Warner emphasized the importance of pushing a major deal through instead of chipping away at the debt problem in stages.

“If there’s one thing we’ve seen from the last few months in Europe, it is when you take these incremental steps, the market comes back and burns you time and again,” he said.

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