WASHINGTON – Breaking with party orthodoxy, 40 House Republicans urged Congress’ supercommittee on Wednesday to consider all options for raising revenue as they hunt for ways to trim the gargantuan $14.8 trillion national debt.
Though in a letter to the special debt-reduction panel the GOP lawmakers studiously avoided specific proposals that the signees admitted could shatter the group’s unanimity, it seemed to at least crack the door open to the potential consideration of tax increases.
That seemed to separate the 40 Republicans from many of their GOP colleagues, who have said they would only consider new revenue generated by a stronger economy.
The GOP lawmakers joined with 60 House Democrats in the letter, which also called on the supercommittee to keep the door open for savings culled from benefit programs like Medicare, a path opposed by many Democrats. In addition, the letter said the special committee should aim for $4 trillion in 10-year savings – more than triple the panel’s mandated minimum target of $1.2 trillion.
The effort was organized by Reps. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.
Republican participants shied away from expressing an unconditional willingness to accept tax increases as part of a final deal.
Even so, the letter’s bipartisan, conciliatory tone contrasted with the political atmosphere in Washington that has buffeted the supercommittee, which has made little evident headway.