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'Murmurings' Of A Deal On Taxes And Deficit Reduction

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders on Tuesday in the Capitol.
J. Scott Applewhite
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders on Tuesday in the Capitol.

There's one week to go before the so-called supercommittee on Capitol Hill is supposed to come up with a deal that combines at least $1.2 trillion in budget cuts and revenue increases to narrow upcoming deficits over the next decade. If lawmakers don't reach an agreement, that amount of spending cuts are supposed to happen automatically — with about 50 percent coming from defense and 50 percent from domestic spending other than Social Security and Medicare.

So are Democrats and Republicans making any progress?

"It sure looks that way," NPR's Andrea Seabrook told host Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition today. There's been "a lot of shuttle diplomacy," she said, with the leadership from both parties calling on the supercommittee. "That's a good sign."

And, Andrea said, there are "murmurings that Republicans would accept, perhaps, revenue raisers ... in other words some kind of increases in tax income."

Indeed, as The Associated Press reports: "House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) publicly blessed a Republican deficit-reduction plan Tuesday that would raise $300 billion in additional tax revenue while overhauling the IRS code, bucking opposition by some GOP presidential hopefuls and colleagues wary of violating a longstanding point of party orthodoxy."

But, and there's always a but, it seems, when reporting about negotiations over taxes and the deficit, Andrea adds that it's still from from clear whether the 12 members of the supercommittee — which is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats — will be able to reach agreement.

The Washington Post writes that "White House officials are quietly bracing for 'supercommittee' failure, with advisers privately saying they are pessimistic that the 12-member Congressional panel will find a way to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit as required."

And Politico says "it's one week from a drop-dead moment for the supercommittee, and the powerful panel is at risk of failing, adding yet another black mark on what is already the most unpopular Congress in modern history. There isn't a shred of bill language circulating publicly and no scent of a bipartisan deal before a Nov. 23 deadline to show the public how a panel granted such sweeping authority is trying to solve America's great fiscal crisis."

Politico views the involvement of Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as a sign that "they're looking for an escape hatch before the Thanksgiving Eve deadline."

So, as with this summer's contentious negotiations over raising the debt ceiling, expect things to go right up to the deadline.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.