With a Thanksgiving deadline looming, members of the bipartisan deficit-reduction panel better known as the “supercommittee” are struggling to trim the federal budget by $1.2 trillion.
On Wednesday, lawmakers from both houses held a news conference to urge the panel to “go big,” William Branigan and Anne E. Kornblut reported:
In a Capitol Hill news conference, Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate also stressed that a “bold” plan is needed to convince markets and the international community that the U.S. government is capable of dealing with its debt issues.
Members of what has been dubbed the “go-big coalition” said about 150 lawmakers in both houses support a compromise deficit-reduction plan that would include increases in revenue and cuts to entitlement programs. About 40 members of the group attended the news conference
“We want [the supercommittee] to know that there is a large and significant number of us in both chambers who want such a deal and are ready to give it a fair shot,” said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the House minority whip. “None of us want to risk the immediate and long-term effects of sequestration . . . if the committee fails.” He referred to the procedure, codified in this summer’s deal to raise the debt ceiling, that would trigger automatic across-the-board cuts of $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Under the sequestration requirement, annual cuts of $109.3 billion would start in fiscal 2013, with half the amount to come from the Defense Department — reductions that the Pentagon has warned could affect national security.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) discussed the work of the debt “supercommittee” during a Capitol huddle Tuesday afternoon, but afterward there was no indication of progress from either side as the bipartisan panel faces a deadline seven days away.
“We talked about a number of things today; we have a lot of things to do before the end of the year comes,” Reid told reporters outside the Senate chamber. “We probably have only three weeks left, and we had to talk about the things that we have to try to get done. Did we talk about the supercommittee? Yeah, but it was non-substantive.”
A spokesman for Boehner did not have any comment on the meeting.
House Republicans discussed the panel’s work at their morning caucus meeting, and congressional leaders and members of the supercommittee continued to meet throughout the day Tuesday as they faced mounting pressure to reach a deal ahead of their Thanksgiving drop-dead date.
Despite the importance of the task at hand, Chris Cillizza reports that few Americans seem to care.
In a Politico/George Washington University national poll, 50 percent — yes, half the country! — said they were “not at all familiar” with the supercommittee while 38 percent said they were only “somewhat familiar” with it. That means that almost nine out of every ten Americans lack even the vaguest notion of what the supercommittee is — much less what its tasked with doing.
(Sidebar: Imagine the percentage of people who understand or have even heard of “sequestration”. Is it one percent?)
And, when people are informed about what the supercommittee actually is and is supposed to do, their pessimism about the ability of government to do much of anything kicks in.
When informed of the supercommittee’s mission, 56 percent of respondents in the Politico/GWU survey said they “strongly” believed the group would not meet its deficit reduction goal while just 11 percent said they “strongly” believed the committee would make it.
Those numbers are backed up by a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll out this morning that shows 78 percent of those surveyed called it “very” (42 percent) or “somewhat” (36 percent) unlikely that the supercommittee will agree to a deficit reduction plan by its Nov. 23 deadline.
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