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Archive for Monday, October 10, 2011

Deficit supercommittee struggles as clock ticks

October 10, 2011

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The supercommittee is struggling.

After weeks of secret meetings, the 12-member deficit-cutting panel established under last summer’s budget and debt deal appears no closer to a breakthrough than when talks began last month.

While the panel members themselves aren’t doing much talking, other lawmakers, aides and lobbyists closely tracking the committee are increasingly skeptical, even pessimistic, that the panel will be able to meet its assigned goal of at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next 10 years.

The reason? A familiar deadlock over taxes and cuts to major programs like Medicare and the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled.

Democrats won’t go for an agreement that doesn’t include lots of new tax revenue; Republicans are just as ardently anti-tax. The impasse over revenues means that Democrats won’t agree to cost curbs on popular entitlement programs like Medicare.

“Fairness has to be a prerequisite for it,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “We have just come through passing a bill that was (all spending) cuts, no revenue.” Pelosi was referring to the August debt-limit bill, which set tight “caps” on agency budgets but didn’t contain revenue increases pressed by Democrats.

Democrats are more insistent on revenues now.

“There’s been no movement on revenues, and I’m not sure the Democrats will agree to anything without revenues,” added a Democratic lobbyist who required anonymity to speak candidly.

Asked last week whether she is confident that the panel can hit its $1.2 trillion goal, co-chairman Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., sidestepped the question.

“I am confident that the public is watching us very closely to see if we can show this country that this democracy can work,” Murray told reporters. “I carry that weight on my shoulders every day and so does every member of this committee.”

The two parties have equal strength on the panel, which has until Thanksgiving to come up with a plan to submit for up-or-down House and Senate votes in December. That means bipartisan compromise is a prerequisite for a successful result.

Thus far, say aides to panel members and other lawmakers, neither side has demonstrated the required flexibility in the super-secret talks.

The $1.2 trillion target evolved after efforts by President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to strike a so-called grand bargain on taxes and spending fell apart in July.

Those discussions and earlier talks led by Vice President Joe Biden identified numerous options for cutting the deficit. They included requiring federal workers to contribute more to their retirement, cutting farm subsidies, auctioning broadcast spectrum and curbing payments to Medicare providers like skilled nursing facilities, rural hospitals and home health care services.

Comments

cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

"After weeks of secret meetings, the 12-member deficit-cutting panel established under last summer’s budget and debt deal appears no closer to a breakthrough than when talks began last month."

Surprise, surprise.

The only solution to the impasse in Washington is to clean house in November of 2012 and vote into office those who are genuinely serious about cutting federal spending and have the guts to do so.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

Cutting deficits won't put people back to work. Not that you care.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

Getting rid of Obama and his liberal Democrat pals in January of 2013 will put many people back to work as soon as this country's employers, large and small, can be assured that those in charge in Washington are pro-business and aren't going to seek to saddle them will ever-increasing regulations and taxes.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

Actually, let me correct that-- cutting deficits will do plenty to put people to work-- in China.

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Corey Williams 2 years, 9 months ago

http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2011/06/21/bill-gross-is-right-about-this/

"It’s difficult to believe, however, that an American-based corporation, with profits as its primary focus, can somehow be wooed back to American soil with a feeble and historically unjustified assurance that Social Security will be now secure or that medical care inflation will disinflate."

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Boston_Corbett 2 years, 9 months ago

Oh good lord Cato. Don't you remember it was Cheney and Rove that repeated over and over to Bush that Reagan proved that "deficits don't matter."

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

I don't include many of the Republicans in the Bush administration as having been serious about cutting federal spending. Some of them spent money as recklessly as liberal Democrats.

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Corey Williams 2 years, 9 months ago

"I don't include any of the Republicans in the Bush administration as having been serious about cutting federal spending. All of them borrowed from China and spent money as recklessly as liberal Democrats, without the taxation to counter their spending."

Fixed it for you.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

I don't include many of the Republicans in the Bush administration as having been serious about cutting federal spending. Some of them spent money as recklessly as liberal Democrats.

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Corey Williams 2 years, 9 months ago

"I don't include any of the Republicans in the Bush administration as having been serious about cutting federal spending. All of them borrowed from China and spent money as recklessly as liberal Democrats, without the taxation to counter their spending."

Fixed it for you again.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

I don't include many of the Republicans in the Bush administration as having been serious about cutting federal spending. Some of them spent money as recklessly as liberal Democrats.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

And, yet, some clueless folks wonder why the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations are spreading across the country.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the modern-day hippies being paid by liberal groups to make fools of themselves protesting on Wall Street will never come close to equaling the Tea Party as a major political movement.

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Boston_Corbett 2 years, 9 months ago

Didn't see the Koch AFP buses driving people to NYC. I did see lots of Koch buses driving people to Tea party meetings & DC rallies.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

Objection, irrelevant.

Sustained.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

Imagine that-- one of the greatest worshippers of greed on this board can't imagine that anyone would do something without getting paid to do it.

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 9 months ago

Bozo, watch Milton Friedman comment on greed and make a fool out of Phil Donahue in the process:

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