Is it the End for the Supercommittee?

Is it the End for the Supercommittee?

They still have three days left — and rabbits have been pulled out of hats in less time than that — but members of the congressional supercommittee sounded pessimistic today.

A number of news roundups of the Sunday talk shows paint a discouraging picture of the supercommittee’s deliberations as the November 23 deadline looms.   The 12 Members of Congress — six Democrats and six Republicans, six from the House and six from the Senate — are tasked by the Budget Control Act of 2011 to find a way to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years.   The sides split on party lines on the question of using tax increases as part of the formula to whittle down the deficit — the Democrats want them, the Republicans insist no.

The blame game was underway today on the talk shows, which either means that it’s all over but the shouting, or this is a last ditch negotiating tactic.  The answer will be known soon.

If they do not reach agreement, or if they do but the rest of Congress and the President do not agree, an automatic cut of $1.2 trillion in spending will be triggered unless Congress changes the law — with the President’s agreement.   President Obama has indicated that he does not want to change the law, but advocates of defense spending are making it known that they will not stand by and watch it be cut by up to $600 billion, especially since the cuts are taken across-the-board without regard to the merit of particular programs or activities.   “Defense” is supposed to shoulder half the cuts, but there is debate as to whether that means just the Department of Defense, or other agencies involved in national security, such as the Department of Homeland Security.

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