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Super Committee fails to reach deficit reduction plan

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The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, often referred to as the "Super Committee," announced Nov. 21 it was unable to reach a bipartisan agreement for cutting federal spending by $1.5 trillion through 2021. The committee was required to post a proposal 48 hours before a Nov. 23 deadline. 

"We remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee's work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy...We are deeply disappointed that we have been unable to come to a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) in a joint statement.

Under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (.pdf), the committee's inability recommend legislation means the government is obligated to make across-the-board spending cuts to discretionary spending worth $1.2 trillion. However, what will actually happen could be subject to further action by Congress, as the broad cuts don't go into effect until January 2013.

Shortly after the Super Committee issued its Nov. 21 statement, President Obama said he would veto any legislation that seeks to avoid the across-the-board spending cuts triggered by the Super Committee's failure. He said "one way or another" the deficit would be cut by $2.2 trillion (that number takes into account $917 billion in cuts already passed into law by the Budget Control Act).

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he is more concerned than ever about lawmakers' ability to "forge common-sense solutions to the nation's pressing problems," according to a report from the Washington Post. The Defense Department had been working on a plan to cut $450 billion from its budget over the next decade, but looming governmentwide cuts could slash it by another $600 billion, notes the Post.

After more than 10 weeks of closed-door discussions little is known about what solutions were considered during the 12-member committee's meetings, but since the Super Committee's announcement finger pointing has reached a fever pitch.

Obama said Republican Super Committee members "simply will not budge" and refused to increase taxes on the wealthy, reported the New York Times. Meanwhile, "a Republican close to the negotiations" told the Times Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was to blame: "'Kerry went rogue,' he said, 'and tried to float another iteration of a trillion-dollar tax hike.'"

For more:
- see the Super Committee statement

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