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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid