James Clyburn: Trigger Option Not So Bad

Blogging the Beltway: The super-committee member is confident -- whether a deal is reached or not.

Clyburn talks with Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.).
Clyburn talks with Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

There’s just over a week to go before the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction — better known as the super committee — hits the Nov. 23 deadline to reach a deal. But the bipartisan, 12-member panel, charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in new deficit cuts, doesn’t appear to be even close.

The Root spoke with Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), assistant Democratic leader and a member of the super committee, about why he can’t take the current Republican proposal seriously, his argument that Congress actually has accomplished some things this year and his view that, if the committee can’t strike a complete deal, then across-the-board trigger cuts are “not all that bad.”

The Root: The latest committee plan getting buzz is this idea of punting some responsibilities down the road — deciding on an amount of new revenues to be raised, but leaving the details to other committees in Congress. Is this seriously under consideration right now?

James Clyburn: That’s been discussed, but I don’t know that it’s a plan seriously under consideration. It’s never been discussed in the committee — there are a lot of sidebar meetings going on. We’ve had a plan that was put out by Senator Baucus that immediately became “the Democrats’ plan,” but it was never the Democrats’ plan. I’m not sure that this plan put out by Senator Toomey can be called the Republican plan. These happen to be two members who have laid out plans. [Laughs.]

I’ve laid out a plan, though I’ve never made it public, as to how I think it ought to be done. So we’re all putting our positions out there, but I don’t think we’ve done anything that can be called an official plan.

TR: Speaking of Toomey’s proposal, it would create about $300 billion in new revenue, but paired with a full extension of the Bush tax cuts. Do you think that’s a good first step?

JC: It creates new revenue? You’re putting $300 billion on the table, and you’re taking $800 billion off the table. I don’t consider that new revenue. That’s a $500 billion hole. So how can you take that seriously?

TR: You’ve also been at odds with Senator Baucus’ plan to lower the deficit by $4 trillion. Your concern is that it trims Medicare too much?

JC: That’s part of the concern that I have, among other things. I’ve made it public that I don’t support that plan, and I don’t think it’s going to be put out there as the Democratic proposal. In fact, Republicans have already said that they don’t support the plan.