“Well, we’ve really just begun our discussions and we’re really trying to set the parameters of the debate and the issues that we are going to face,” Camp, a Michigan Republican, told me on “GMA.”
“George, we are working very hard to [reach a deal] but the first thing we need to do is work through the process,” Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, said.
The two men stuck to their parties' talking points. Camp said it is about "preventing a tax hike" and said Democrats only bring a “restrictive” bill to the floor. He added that Republicans are willing to vote on extending the unemployment benefits which have begun to expire– but only if they are fully paid for.
Van Hollen accused Republicans of a double standard, saying the GOP demands a payment plan for the approximately $13 billion in unemployment benefits but not the $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
Camp said that if they can’t reach a compromise on tax cuts then he will bring it up in the new Congress.
“It’s not about the deal, it’s about getting the right policy. And frankly if we don’t get this done the first thing I’m going to do as Chairman of the Ways and Means committee is bring a bill that extends - make sure we don’t have a tax hike for any American,” he told me.
“Yeah, and that will add $700 billion to the deficit at the same time we are trying to get our fiscal house in order,” Van Hollen shot back.
So no give in public, but does that really mean they won’t come together in private? Not necessarily. I still believe there will be a deal because there has to be a deal. The consequences of failure are just too severe. But both sides want to send the message that they won’t go down without a fight. That’s what you saw this morning.