Deficit Panel Floundering
Party leaders may have to light a rocket under 'supercommittee'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2011 7:13 AM CDT
Updated Oct 19, 2011 7:40 AM CDT
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, led by co-chairs Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., meets to hear testimony about the national debt.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

(Newser) – The bipartisan panel tasked with finding ways to cut more than $1 trillion from the federal deficit is only five weeks away from its Nov. 23 deadline, and you might not be flabbergasted to learn that it is having trouble reaching an agreement—or even agreeing on basic starting positions. The 12-member "supercommittee"—split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, and House and Senate members—has been told not discuss its work publicly, but insiders say things are moving very slowly indeed and there will be no consensus unless party leaders step in, the New York Times finds.

The panel is "still hovering at 30,000 feet" and asking basic questions like: “What is the baseline? Are we doing tax reform?" a person working for the committee says. Multiple sources say John Kerry has been the most talkative committee member by far—and has annoyed members of both parties. "It’s what I would call Senate talk," a House GOP aide complains."It’s like a waterfall of words. It never gets you anyplace." If the panel can't reach an agreement, $1.2 trillion in cuts will be triggered. Committee members have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from groups, especially health care interests, who would be better off if the talks failed, the Hill notes.
 

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