Vice President Biden said Tuesday that he believes the 12-member “supercommittee” charged with tackling the country’s debt problem by Thanksgiving faces “very difficult” odds.
The supercommittee has “a shot of getting a deal that would be viewed by Wall Street, be viewed by everyone, be viewed by the international community as a significant alteration of a trajectory of long-term debt,” Biden told reporters aboard Air Force Two during an eight-day Asia tour, according to Bloomberg’s Kate Andersen Brower.
Ultimately, Biden told reporters, the debt supercommittee “still may end up with the trigger being pulled” if its members are unable to reach a compromise.
Biden led a six-member bipartisan group in separate debt-reduction talks during May and June. Those talks broke down in late June after House Republicans pulled out, citing an impasse on the issue of whether tax increases should be included in a final deal. Some of those differences on “philosophically big-ticket items,” as Biden termed it in June, remain an obstacle as the new 12-member supercommittee begins its work.
The panel must come to an agreement on at least $1.5 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade or else the “trigger” will be pulled on $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts, half to domestic discretionary spending and half to defense spending. But as we’ve noted, the panel doesn’t face an “either-or” choice: members could end up agreeing to a smaller deal, with the remaining amount being subject to an across-the-board cut in order to reach a total deficit savings of $1.2 trillion.