The 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or “Supercommittee” as it is more commonly referred, is scheduled to finish its work by November 23. However, there is much uncertainty regarding it’s outcome.
The “Suppercommittee” was created as a part of the budget deal to raise the debt ceiling and is charged with identifying $1.2 trillion in federal budget deficit reductions. Maryland’s congressional representative, Chris Van Hollen, is a member of the “Supercommittee” and hopes they are able to reach a deal prior to the deadline. As reported by the Baltimore Sun,
I hope that … we’re able to reach an agreement to show that we can get something done for the good of the country,” Van Hollen said in an interview. “But that requires that there be a negotiating partner that’s willing to enter a balanced and fair deal.
If an agreement is not reached, automatic cuts will be triggered.
If the panel deadlocks or Congress does not approve its recommendations by the end of the year, automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion would be triggered. About half of those reductions would hit defense spending and the other half could fall on Medicare, medical research, transportation and other government services.
The cuts would be especially painful in Maryland, home to 286,810 federal workers, a bevy of military installations and about $27 billion in annual federal contracts.
“If we were unable to reach an agreement, then you’d see these across-the-board cuts take place, which would mean significant reductions in the everyday operations of the federal government,” said Van Hollen, 52. “It could have an even bigger impact on Maryland, Virginia and Washington.”
But taking no action on the nation’s deficit is not an option. If the cost of Medicare remains on its current trajectory and Congress extends income tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, U.S. debt would grow to 87 percent of the economy by 2020, up from 62 percent this year, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.