Super Committee Should Be More Forthcoming

Oct 25, 2011

By Hannah Matthews

For the first time in more than a month, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super Committee) will have an open hearing Wednesday to discuss discretionary spending.

The Nov. 23 deadline for the Super Committee to submit its recommendations to cut $1.5 trillion from the deficit over the next decade is fast approaching, and so far much of the Super Committee's work has been conducted behind closed doors. Given that the Super Committee's decision may set the stage for federal spending for years to come, its process should be transparent and that visibility should come in the form of conveying what potential proposals will mean in the short- and long-term for the nation's families.

We've publicly stated time after time that the weight of deficit reduction should not fall disproportionately on low-income people. This hearing is an opportunity to discuss proposals and the tangible impact they will have on the nation's economy and families. Yet, on the surface, the upcoming hearing appears to have no other framework beyond a focus on potential cuts to discretionary spending. Further, a public discussion of how to address the nation's deficits through spending cuts and tax reform has not yet received public vetting.  Will there be more hearings to come, and will those hearings go beyond discretionary programs? 

So far, the committee's vision for deficit reduction is a closely held secret. This hearing raises concern that that vision may be narrowly focused on discretionary cuts alone, affecting those least able to bear the burden of deficit reduction.  Lawmakers should use the remaining month to live up to the principle of shared sacrifice and have a broad, public discussion about how best to move forward with reducing the nation's deficits in a balanced way. 

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