News / USA

US Deficit Super Committee Prepares to Begin Work

As President Barack Obama prepares to unveil proposals to spur U.S. economic growth and job creation, a bipartisan committee of lawmakers tasked with slashing the federal deficit prepares to convene for the first time. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will have less than three months to craft a formula to cut the projected growth of America’s national debt by more than $1 trillion over 10 years.

If President Obama hopes to convince Congress of the need to spend more money in the short term to invigorate a languishing U.S. economy, the so-called deficit super committee has an opposite goal - cutting expenses in the long term to put the United States on a better fiscal path.

The committee of six Democrats and six Republicans arose from last month’s debt-ceiling agreement.

The committee gets to work during a period of low economic growth and job creation.  Under such conditions, some Democratic committee members are questioning the wisdom of fiscal austerity.

Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina says his constituents have more pressing concerns than the federal deficit. “These people do not want to hear me talking about [spending] cuts.  They do not want to hear anything but [creating new] jobs,” Clyburn said.

His words are echoed by another Democratic committee member, Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois. “We are fixed on the theme of our nation’s deficit and debt, and we should be.  But I might remind my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, it is virtually impossible to balance the budget of the United States with 14 million people out of work.  You need to put Americans back to work, earning a good paycheck, paying their taxes,” Durban said.

Republicans counter that reining in a spendthrift federal government is necessary for a sound economy, and failing to do so will choke off a fragile economic recovery and lead to fiscal ruin.

Although not a member of the deficit committee, Senator Jeff Sessions is the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.

“At some point, this country gets to a position where you cannot continue to borrow without damaging the economy.  It is just that simple.  Americans understand it.  As one man told me, ‘You cannot borrow your way out of debt,” Sessions said.

The deficit committee’s recommendations are to be presented by late-November.  They will come to a vote by late-December.  Failure to identify at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings will trigger automatic spending cuts over a broad range of federal agencies.

It is hoped that the threat of such cuts will force members of the bipartisan committee to compromise and hammer out a deficit reduction package.

Economist Alice Rivlin, who served on a debt commission advising President Obama, says there is a more pressing reason to act.

“The real scary thing is what happens if we do not fix this [debt] problem.  I think the committee has got to be telling itself every morning at nine o'clock, 'If we do not solve this problem, we could have a financial meltdown.  The markets will turn against us; the economy could be wrecked for generations,'” Rivlin said.

After a long, bruising, partisan budget battle earlier this year, public opinion surveys show Americans more skeptical than ever about Washington’s ability to fix urgent national problems.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office chief, says if the debt committee fails to agree on budget savings, it would reinforce the public’s negative perception.

“The debt ceiling fight was a turning point in the American electorate’s feelings about Washington.  And the pressure will be on this committee from a political point of view to prove that Washington still has some value to this country, and that the legislative process still works to some extent,” Holtz-Eakin said.

Committee members are bracing for an expected onslaught of lobbyists representing unions, business groups, and a host of special interests determined to preserve existing government programs and tax policies.

Even if the committee identifies more than $1 trillion in savings, and even if those cuts become law, budget experts say the national debt will continue to grow.  Some say even stronger austerity measures will be needed in years to come.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid