By Jonathan Easley - 11/02/11 02:04 PM EDT
“I don’t want to get too specific about what demands are or are not in the committee,” Toomey said. “But I’m just suggesting that there is a fundamental divide over how much we ought to focus on fixing the spending problem that has created these deficits, versus raising taxes — that is an area of some tension.”
Speaking on "America’s Newsroom" on Fox on Wednesday, Toomey drew a stark comparison between Republicans, whom he says are looking to “fix the problem” of unsustainable entitlement programs, and Democrats, whom he says are looking to “just raise taxes.”
“We have programs that are completely unsustainable. Medicare and Medicaid are growing at multiples of economic growth, and no program can indefinitely grow faster than the economy is growing,” Toomey said. “They are wildly outstripping any sustainable path, and so some of us are suggesting — let’s fix the problem and let’s make these programs work for the people who need them.
“And then there’s another point of view that says, 'Look — just raise taxes,' " Toomey continued. “And you know, you can’t tax your way out of this problem, so this has been one of the challenges that we’ve had.”
Some members of the supercommittee have reportedly been meeting behind the scenes to determine whether a smaller backup deal is possible. Toomey dismissed such reports as hearsay.
“You know, I wouldn’t believe everything that you read, OK?” he said. “I think there are lot of rumors going around that are not entirely accurate. I think there’s a majority of the 12, a big majority of the 12 that really want to accomplish something and are working to accomplish something. Certainly there are going to be one-off side conversations here and there, that are going to happen, and that can be very constructive, obviously, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in this.”
The committee has 21 days to reach an agreement on $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, or else a sequester mechanism will trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts, with $600 billion of that coming from the Pentagon’s budget.