Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Co-Chairs U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) (2nd R) and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (R) shake hands after the committee's first hearing September 8, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Six Democrats, six Republicans – and a $1.2 trillion dollar mountain of debt. President Obama’s so-called “Super Committee,” appointed last month by House and Senate leaders, met for the first time last week. Their mission: find enough savings in the federal budget to wipe out the deficit, and do it by November 23rd. If they fail, automatic budget cuts will kick in, split between defense and domestic programs, to take effect over the next 10 years. How will they accomplish this super-human feat of mathematical, political and diplomatic skill? And will it be enough? According to the Congressional Budget Office, Washington is poised to outspend its projected tax revenues by $4.6 trillion during the next ten years – four times the committee’s mandate. And, Republicans complain, the president isn’t making their job easier with his proposed $447 billion jobs plan, which calls for further tax cuts, hiring incentives, infrastructure spending and assistance for the unemployed. Democrats, on the other hand, have pointed out that if passed, the American Jobs Act could do its job and stimulate economic growth up to three percentage points, translating into $30 to $90 billion in potential debt reduction. Is the Super Committee our last and only hope? Can they use their superpowers to get us out of this mess? Will they be able to put partisanship aside to come up with a solution that will please all the people, all the time? And most importantly – will it work?
John Dimsdale, Washington Bureau Chief, Marketplace
David Mark, Senior Editor, Politico