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Supercommittee deadlocked on familiar issue: taxes

 

The success of the supercommittee's negotiations on deficit reducation appears to hinge on taxes, as Democratic and Republican members of the 12-member panel struggled to find common ground on the issue of revenue.

Supercommittee Democrats and Republicans remained in their respective corners Thursday, as each side insisted they were waiting for the other to move. A familiar sticking point on Capitol Hill has left the committee deadlocked: taxes, taxes, taxes.

With six days to go until a Nov. 23rd deadline, Democrats and Republicans huddled behind closed doors to continue talks toward a deal that would achieve $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade. Democrats met for about two hours in the Capitol this morning; Republicans met three times today, including a meeting between House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Democrats emerged from their meeting with a message to Republicans: we’re waiting to hear from you.

Sen. Patty Murray (WA), the Democratic co-chair, said her party has agreed to lower their demand for new revenue to a level acceptable to Republicans.

"The Democrats are in complete agreement. We have met their offer on revenue...I believe that we have opened a door to negotiations in these last final hours," Murray said.

Per Democratic aides, Sen. Murray offered to her Republican co-chair, Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, last week an offer that would achieve the mandated $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by way of $401 billion in new revenue and $876 billion in spending cuts, which includes $275 billion in health entitlement savings.

"I'm unaware of any offer or any idea from any Democrat that didn't include a minimum of a trillion dollars more in tax increases," Hensarling told reporters at the Capitol. "I'm unaware of another offer."

Under this particular Democratic plan, the Bush tax cuts would expire at the end of next year. The Republican proposal calls for an extension of Bush tax cuts with even lower rates. Therefore, Republicans argued today that Democrats were being disingenuous claiming they had met Republican revenue demands.

"There is no offer from the Democrats that meets our number," Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R) told reporters as he shuffled between meetings today.

He added: "I haven’t seen anything this week that’s new in any way...there was a piece of paper exchanged between a couple of the people but it is not a new offer."

In a sign that Democrats may be working off different pages, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said he was "surprised" Murray said Democrats had met Republican demands. He said the two sides were still negotiating.

"I believe that people need to put politics aside, put ideology aside, work in the best interests of the American people and hopefully we can get something done," Kerry said.

Hensarling tried to enforce the point of Democratic disunity. "Last I heard, the Democrats had not coalesced around a position," he said.

The supercommittee members say they plan to work throughout the weekend to produce an agreement. In anticipation of a potential failure of talks, both sides are now engaged in a furious effort to show they've produced offers and made concessions to the other side.

NBC's Frank Thorp contributed reporting.