The 12-member deficit-cutting panel established last summer to come up with $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years has until Thanksgiving to reach a proposal to maximize that goal, but observers are growing increasingly nervous about where compromise can be found.
The battle lines remain the same — Democrats want to raise taxes and oppose cutting entitlements, while Republicans refuse to curb tax carve-outs without a guarantee of lower tax rates overall.
The impasse has lobbyists and aides in Washington — traditionally stuck in gridlock — increasingly skeptical.
The supercommittee could steal from proposals already put on the table, including requiring federal workers to contribute more to their retirement, cuts to farm subsidies, auctioning the broadcast spectrum and curbs of payments to Medicare providers like skilled nursing facilities, rural hospitals and home health care services.
It wouldn’t be enough to reach the goal, but it would be a starting point.
Paul Ryan has said other options already laid out in a dozen bills passed by the House this year include reducing regulations on small businesses that would allow them to grow, increasing the tax pool. Another idea, he said, would be to end talk of tax increases.