The man who led the first in a series of failed Congressional debt limit negotiations says it’s still quite likely that the new joint Super Committee, tasked with reducing the deficit by another $1.5 trillion over 10 years, will gridlock, triggering unpalatable penalties.
The new 12-member panel has “a shot of getting a deal that would be viewed by Wall Street, be viewed by everyone, be viewed by the international community as a significant alteration of a trajectory of long-term debt…. We still may end up with the trigger being pulled,” Vice President Joe Biden told reporters traveling aboard Air Force Two in Asia. Reaching a deal will be “very difficult,” he added.
The penalty is $1.2 trillion over 10 years in across the board haircuts to defense, Medicare providers, the health care reform beneficiaries, and other domestic spending. Though the committee must reach agreement by mid-November, and Congress must pass their recommendations before year’s end to avoid pulling the trigger, the penalty doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2013, which would give Congress ample time for a mulligan.
The committee itself, co-chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), is in its initial staffing stages. Early conversations between members and aides have begun, but real work likely won’t begin until after Labor Day. The chairs have met in person to discuss the panel’s operation, but have yet to establish transparency requirements or other rules for the committee.
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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.