Update on the Super Committee

By Marge Clark, BVM
October 31, 2011

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, commonly referred to as the Super Committee, is now three weeks from its deadline for providing a plan to the House and to the Senate. They have held many closed meetings, and on November 1 will hold their fourth open meeting.

Differences about increased revenue versus spending cuts continue to be as contentious as they were in previous budget negotiations. Republicans continue to push NO NEW TAXES, or NO TAX INCREASES. Democrats are pushing for a surtax on those earning over $1 million/year. Republicans are pushing for additional cuts to discretionary programs, severe cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, and changes to Social Security which would result in increasingly reduced benefits to beneficiaries. Democrats are working to protect safety net programs, including Medicaid, SNAP and other areas that help people live with dignity.

This week, the leadership of the House and the Senate are stepping in, as the panel has been unable to make progress in resolving the tax issues. The hope is that by working with the leadership, a framework can be developed this week. Then the panel (Super Committee) would spend the following days incorporating legislative details. The Super Committee has MANY ideas from which to develop these details. They have met with the Gang of Six, with the Biden Commission, and others who had previously designed means of reducing the deficit – none of which was entirely accepted by Congress. Taking pieces from each, and doing additional creative work, may lead to an agreement.

If no agreement is reached by November 23, when it is due to the House and to the Senate for an up-or-down vote, an automatic “sequester” will be accepted. However, once accepted it does not go into effect until January 1, 2013 – giving Congress a year to make changes in sequester as it was passed in August.

The Super Committee will need to complete its work well before November 23, as any agreement will need to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. This will give advocates for every issue time to study the plan before it goes to the House and to the Senate. NETWORK looks forward to seeing this document.

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