April 17, 2014

Time for Action from Supercommittee Co-Chairs

  • The national debt has grown significantly in recent years due to rising annual deficits. A deficit occurs in any year the government spends more...

Time is running short for members of the congressional “super committee,” which has until a week from tomorrow to recommend a plan to reduce projected federal deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade.

In recent days Democratic and Republican lawmakers offered proposals that showed greater flexibility than in the past – Republicans on the idea of new tax revenue and Democrats on possible cuts in entitlement spending.

But the two sides continued to criticize each other’s suggestions and argue that more concessions were needed.

The Concord Coalition, which has urged the super committee to look for more than $4 trillion in deficit reduction, called Monday on the panel’s co-chairs – Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) -- to submit a ‘chairmen’s mark’ – a plan to serve as a framework for final negotiations.

“Now that each side has staked out its positions, it’s up to the co-chairs to forge consensus,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition.

A joint public  proposal from the co-chairs, he said, would “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.”

If the committee and Congress fall short of the $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction goal, legislation approved last summer calls for sharp automatic spending cuts in both defense and domestic spending.

Some lawmakers, anticipating failure, are talking about ways to prevent this “trigger” mechanism from taking effect, with Republicans particularly concerned about possible defense cuts. President Obama warned Murray and Hensarling on Friday, however, that he would oppose such efforts. Concord also opposes the idea of shutting off the trigger.