Just a day after a heated closed-door meeting that indicated there’s still a large gap between Democrats and Republicans on entitlement and tax reform, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction convened for its third public policy hearing on Wednesday morning.
And if the points members made during the two-hour hearing are any indication, the 12-member panel has a long way to go to reach a deal before its Nov. 23 deadline to present a package worth $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over 10 years to Congress.
The hearing was scheduled to be a discussion of discretionary spending, which makes up about 40 percent of the budget. But the members only loosely stuck to those guidelines, instead making partisan points about income distribution, defense spending and savings, tax reform, and economic uncertainty.
Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, who testified during the group’s first public policy hearing on the drivers of the debt, carefully explained budgetary concepts, warned the committee that its decisions on discretionary spending could be voided by future Congresses, and highlighted the savings already wrung from discretionary outlays. He also noted that mandatory spending “dominates” the federal budget.
The committee’s Democrats and Republicans alike agreed with him – at least in theory. But while Democrats pointed out that mandatory spending reforms would have to be paired with reduced defense spending and additional revenues, Republicans maintained that spending – not revenues – is the problem.
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Comment: While there are number of discussions that could be considered in this article, the one thought I have as I read it, is that the idea of repealing the 17th gets pushed back further in to time as each day passes and no Americans challenge the unconstitutionality of the super congress.