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Sen. Toomey says supercommittee proposal could still work

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 6:20 p.m.

Sen. Pat Toomey wants to use a proposal he put forth as a member of the “supercommittee” last year as the foundation of a compromise to avert the fiscal cliff.

“We still have time to solve this problem. I want to solve this problem,” Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, said during a conference call Monday. “Going over the fiscal cliff, contrary to what some of my colleagues in this body seem to believe, that's a really bad idea.”

Last year, as a member of a House-Senate committee tasked with cutting more than $1 trillion from the deficit, Toomey proposed cutting $750 billion in spending and raising $500 billion in revenue. The spending cuts relied mostly on Medicare, Medicaid and other health care-related reductions, and much of the revenue would come from limiting tax deductions.

“The basic framework that I laid out in the supercommittee is a framework that can get us to an agreement, can avoid the fiscal cliff, and begin to put us on the road to avoiding this fiscal train wreck while encouraging economic growth at the same time,” Toomey said.But limiting deductions for taxpayers making more than $250,0000 won't bring in enough revenue, Democrats say.

“The obstacle remains at this point the refusal to acknowledge by Republican leaders that there is no deal that achieves the kind of balance that is necessary without raising rates on the top 2 percent of wealthiest Americans. The math simply does not add up,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The supercommittee's failure to reach agreement on deficit reduction started a countdown to the “fiscal cliff” Jan. 1, when spending cuts and tax hikes would begin to take effect.

President Obama campaigned on raising taxes on the wealthy by, among other things, allowing Bush-era tax cuts to expire for those making more than $250,000 a year.

Toomey said he'd agree to restrict the tax increases to the wealthiest taxpayers. But in return, he wants the tax hikes to come through tax reform that lowers overall rates while eliminating deductions.

Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or mwereschagin@tribweb.com.

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