WASHINGTON – With little more than a week to go before the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (“super committee”) is due to deliver its recommendations to Congress, The Concord Coalition said today that the panel’s co-chairs, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) should submit a plan, or “chairmen’s mark,” to serve as the framework for final negotiations.
“In recent days, we have seen proposals from each side that have moved them somewhat closer to each other's positions,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “Democrats have put entitlements on the table and Republicans have put new revenues on the table. These are necessary ingredients for an agreement. But neither party has the votes in Congress or the public trust to go it alone. Now that each side has staked out its positions, it’s up to the co-chairs to forge consensus.”
The Concord Coalition has argued from the beginning of the super committee’s work that all options must be on the table and that the final agreement should aim for a greater amount of deficit reduction than the statutory mandate of $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Achieving a larger “grand bargain,” which is needed to stabilize the nation’s growing debt burden, will require both sides to abandon a strictly partisan approach.
“The co-chairs are familiar with the various proposals and presumably have the best sense of how far their fellow committee members and their respective leaders are willing to go,” Bixby said. “At a time like this, it is not enough to be the leader of a caucus. A joint public proposal from the co-chairs would set a very positive example by demonstrating that agreement is possible. It could jump-start efforts to achieve an even grander bargain if other committee members follow their lead.”
Concord urged that a chairmen’s mark achieve at least the minimum statutory deficit reduction to avoid automatic cuts. If time is needed for a more far-reaching deal, the super committee has the power to keep the process going by instructing the relevant committees of jurisdiction to find additional deficit reduction in the 2012 budget process.