WASHINGTON -- Republicans and Democrats appeared no closer today to reaching an accord on a plan to tackle the country’s growing budget deficits -- and couldn’t agree either whether talks have broken down.
Members of the so-called supercommittee took to the airwaves on Sunday news programs, saying they were not giving up -- despite growing pessimism. On Saturday, Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, had all but conceded that the panel had failed.
But Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the Republican co-chair of the 12-member deficit panel, declined to say whether talks have broken down -- but said the panel’s inability to reach a deal is a “huge missed opportunity.”
The Democratic chairwoman, Senator Patty Murray of Washington, told CNN that a deal was still possible. “I’m at the table. I want to solve this,” she said.
But both sides remain far apart, with Republicans and Democrats unwilling to embrace proposals offered by the other.
“I don’t think we should call the game over deep in the fourth quarter,” Representative Xavier Becerra, a Democrat from California, who serves on the panel, said on an appearance on Fox News.
“Nobody wants to give up hope,” Hensarling told “Fox News Sunday,” adding that “reality is to some extent starting to overtake hope.”
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, one of six Democrats on the 12-member deficit panel, said he was ready to keep working on reaching a deal.
“We could have a deal in the next two hours, we could cut $1.2 trillion by tomorrow morning,” he told NBC on “Meet the Press.”
But to reach a deal, Republicans would need to drop their insistence on extending tax cuts put in place during the Bush administration.
“We put every sacred cow on the table,” Kerry said of his fellow Democrats.
The panel has until Wednesday to approve a plan to reduce federal deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. If not, $1.5 trillion in automatic cuts will go into effect, about half of those cuts in defense.
Democrats have insisted on generating new revenues to reduce the need for spending cuts. Republicans have resisted.
Republicans have offered to increase new revenues, but Democrats say their plan was not enough and benefits the wealthy.
Observers held little hope a deal would be struck. A plan was supposed to be forwarded to the Congressional Budget Office for analysis by midnight Monday.Bobby Caina Calvan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @GlobeCalvan.