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Debt panel fails, as Owens predicted

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By Times Washington correspondent Marc Heller:

WASHINGTON — The failure of the congressional deficit reduction committee was no surprise to Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, who's been predicting that outcome for weeks. But what's his next prediction?

The congressman said Monday that he wouldn't be surprised to see a new coalition of moderate lawmakers from both parties come together around a proposal that cuts government programs but also raises taxes.

Mr. Owens said a deal might be forthcoming from lawmakers who, like him, signed on to a letter to the supercommittee to "go big" by being willing to increase tax revenues to help slash the deficit, along with the spending cuts.

That could happen, Mr. Owens said, if the public sends a strong enough message of disapproval to Congress over its handling of the deficit — something he said has not yet happened in his district, despite the crisis making headlines and Congress's approval rating falling to new lows.

"I think people have to start hearing from the public," he said.

In a sign of how the issue may play out in the race for the 23rd Congressional District, Mr. Doheny's GOP opponent, Matthew A. Doheny, said Monday he wouldn't accept any tax hikes at all to bring the government back to balance, including those the Republicans offered to the supercommittee.

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