President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) both added this week to the super committee’s already-considerable to-do list, while the director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the panel must decide on any substantial changes by early November to meet its deadlines.
The bipartisan and bicameral group charged with finding at least $1.5 trillion – and maybe much more – to cut from federal spending met publicly and privately this week, as new questions about its task and timeline emerged.
At a hearing on Tuesday, Members of the committee heard from CBO Director Doug Elmendorf, who outlined in sometimes exhaustive detail the nation’s fiscal situation and the negative effects of the slowed economy.
Without making recommendations, he outlined the role, and likely need, for both revenue enhancements and spending cuts, noting multiple times that efficiencies and cuts around the edges of major programs would not achieve the savings needed by the committee’s effort.
He also confirmed the well-known fact that if legislation comes out of the super committee requiring a full CBO score – a near certainty – legislative language must arrive to analysts no later than early November.
Elmendorf’s testimony about the gravity of the situation came as discussion intensifies about the appropriate role for the super committee in future stimulus efforts.
On Monday, Obama unveiled his jobs bill, which includes proposals to cut payroll taxes for employees and employers; spend money on preventing layoffs for teachers and first-responders; and engage in new infrastructure projects.
To pay for the $447 billion plan, Obama proposed increasing the amount of savings the super committee must find – bringing the total to around $2 trillion – and/or increasing some taxes, which is generally seen as a non-starter by Republicans. Obama is set to release his plan for deficit reduction early next week.
For his part, Boehner said in a speech Thursday that the super committee should seek to undertake tax reform, even if a full overhaul is not possible in the next six weeks or so.
Railing against the Obama jobs plan and any notions of tax increases, he said too many regulations, too much spending and the tax code are holding the economy back and, as has become de rigueur, called for policymakers to put aside differences and get work done.
Of course, discussions continue in Washington regarding how best to approach a 2012 Farm Bill in anticipation of whatever the super committee’s recommendations may be.
With new fiscal realities in mind, both the National Corn Growers Association and the National Farmers Union released ideas this week for possible farm bill policies. The National Cotton Council has also made a statement about its priorities in the 2012 Bill.
Members of NAWG’s Board of Directors talked this week via conference call to learn more about the current political climate in Washington and to receive reports from policy-specific committees that have met since the full Board’s last meeting at Commodity Classic.
NAWG’s leadership anticipates these discussions continuing as deadlines related to the super committee’s work approach and the fiscal situation for the 2012 Bill develops.
More from the super committee is available online at http://deficitreduction.senate.gov.