The Madeleine Brand Show for November 21, 2011

Political roundup: Supercommittee likely to fail

Joint Deficit Reduction Committee Holds Overview Hearing Of Previous Debt Proposals

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Co-chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)(L), talks with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)(R), during a Joint Deficit Reduction Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, on November 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. The special Joint Committee is tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving.

The so-called "supercommittee" has three days left to propose $1.2 trillion of deficit reductions, and members are still far from reaching a deal. With no signs of a breakthrough before the Nov. 23 deadline, congressional aides said they expected a formal statement within a few hours announcing the panel's failure to reach a compromise. Without a deficit reduction proposal, automatic trigger cuts will engage unless Congress repeals them, and Congress will have another year to come up with a deal before the 2012 elections.

Congressman and supercommittee member Xavier Becerra (D-CA) told KPCC's Madeleine Brand that "the elements of a deal have been on the table for quite some time," but everyone must compromise to reach a bipartisan agreement.

"If we could all sort of hang up [...] those special interest pledges where the allegiance is to something not important to the country but to these particular special interests," he said Monday. "If you can't hang those up, it's difficult to believe you can [...] find the middle road."

Becerra went on to say that all issues, whether it be cuts to Social Security or increased contribution from wealthy Americans, must at least be discussed. "If we go to the table and say 'I'm putting everything out there for consideration,' then use the merits to keep only those things that should be part of the solution — I thought that was the best way to approach it."

Still, the committee is running out of time to give in on programs they're unwilling to change. The automatic reductions would trigger midyear cuts to public schools, colleges and health care programs.

Becerra said that while he doesn't like the consequences of failing to reach a deal, the trigger cuts must be enforced rather than repealed.

"It's the worst way to legislate, to have it be done through some automatic triggers instead of having Americans decide how to bring the smartest savings for the economy," he said. "But at the same time, that's what we have, it's to the books, it's to the law, and to undo that is to simply say we were never serious about any of this."

KPCC's Andrea Wang and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

Guests:

Christina Bellantoni, associate politics editor for Roll Call.

Congressman Xavier Becerra, 31st Congressional district (Los Angeles) representative and a member on the 'supercommittee.'


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