"We're at a time in American history where everybody's afraid -- afraid of losing their job -- to move toward the center," he told The Washington Post in an interview Thursday. "A deadline is insufficient. You've got to have people who are willing to move."
The committee has a Thanksgiving deadline to agree on a package of budget cuts and possibly tax increases. The automatic spending cuts that were supposed to be an incentive to compromise do not take effect until January 2013, after the next election, when the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush also expire.
Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee and a leading member of the supercommittee, said any agreement "would upset a lot of people on both sides."
The Post said members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction spent most of Thursday in single-party talks with a brief bipartisan meeting in the evening.