The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the legislative supercommittee established to find an additional $1.5 trillion in reductions to the federal deficit, has announced that they will be holding their third public meeting next Wednesday. That hearing will feature testimony from Doug Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) about discretionary spending levels. Discretionary spending was already cut by almost $1 billion over the next decade by the August agreement on the debt limit, which will bring discretionary spending as a percentage of GDP to its lowest levels since Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency. Yet discretionary funding faces two additional looming threats. In order to meet their $1.5 trillion target, the supercommittee could be considering further discretionary cuts. Furthermore, if the supercommittee deadlocks or its recommendations are not approved by Congress, the $1.2 billion in automatic cuts triggered by the sequestration process will further reduce discretionary spending. For more about sequestration and the discretionary spending cuts already signed into law, read CWLA’s summary of the August debt deal.
This week supercommittee members were also briefed by the so-called “Gang of Six” senators on their deficit reduction plan. The Gang of Six, which consists of three Republican and three Democratic senators, crafted the first major plan that has received support from sitting Members of Congress in both parties. However, the plan’s reliance on revenue from tax reforms is an anathema to House Republicans. In addition, scores of advocates and Members of Congress have submitted letters to the supercommittee urging them to ensure that vulnerable populations are protected in any federal deficit proposal.