Although Republicans offered to raise taxes by $300 billion over the next decade, they insisted on conditions that all but guaranteed that the wealthy would not be hit hard. And Democrats refused to agree to deep cuts in spending on health care for the poor and the elderly unless the rich were forced to make greater sacrifices.
By late last week, hope for a deal had all but faded, leaving panel members to spend a desultory weekend talking with their aides and trekking to TV studios for recrimination-filled appearances on Sunday talk shows. On Monday, several members took one last stab.
“Both sides are feeling angst and greater angst at the possibility of no agreement,” Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said as he left a midday meeting in the office of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). “So they’re working harder, more creatively, to see what can be accomplished.”
In addition to Baucus and Kerry, the bipartisan huddle included Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and three Republicans: Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.) and Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Rob Portman (Ohio).