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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More