L/SFR Sneak Preview: Death of a (Not-So-)Super Committee

November 29, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

(This story is excerpted from the Dec. 5 issue of Local/State Funding Report.) The week before Thanksgiving, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – also known as the “super committee” – formally announced what many observers had feared and predicted over the preceding weeks: that it had been unable to come to an agreement about how to cut $1.2 trillion in spending in order to reduce the federal deficit.

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.” With that, committee chairs Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., conceded the failure and effective end of the super committee on Nov. 21.

The joint committee was charged with the unenviable challenge of developing a federal cost-cutting plan for the next decade during a time of deep political divisions across the country and the inhospitable climate of an election year.  Rather than revealing common ground and promoting policy bridge-building, equal representation of Democrats and Republicans and members of both the House and Senate on the committee only seemed to showcase the impossibility of its task.

While restating his support of a balanced approach to deficit reduction and his willingness to work with legislators who take that approach, President Obama chastised the super committee for its stalemate.  He levied the blame on congressional Republicans, who he said “have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington [and] continue to insist on protecting $100 billion worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans at any cost.”

According to the Budget Control Act from August that established the super committee, the failure to reach a plan will trigger $1.2 trillion dollars in automatic cuts beginning in January 2013 – officially known as sequestration – that will equally impact defense and nondefense spending.

Local/State Funding Report will continue to track and report on how these and related developments are expected to impact funding agencies and grantseekers.

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