A group of 100 Republican and Democratic lawmakers are urging the super committee to push for $4 trillion in deficit reduction, beyond its current goal of $1.2 trillion.
Republicans in the group led by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Rep. Mike Simspon (R-Idaho) say they’re willing to consider some tax increases, and some Democrats say additional reductions to the defense budget would help rack up the significantly higher target.
The joint select committee on deficit reduction has until Nov. 23 to put forward recommendations for deficit reduction. With mounting pessimism about the prospects for the committee’s success, the group of 100 lawmakers stepped forward to provide support and let the super committee know they are willing to consider items previously off the table.
Still, there’s no clear agreement about the details.
Under a $4 trillion reduction scenario, Rep. Rob Andrews (R-N.J.) envisions a total of $600 billion coming out of the Pentagon’s budget. That would mean an additional $200 billion over what was recommended in the Budget Control Act. Similarly, he sees an additional $200 billion coming out of homeland security accounts.
Such a $4 trillion deal envisions earlier withdrawal from Afghanistan, about 18 months prior to President Obama’s 2014 time line. Beyond defense, the package would include savings from entitlements, revenues and savings on interest on the debt.
And although Andrews says his Republican colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee aren’t likely to welcome additional defense cuts, he says that’s what compromise is all about. “I’m not comfortable with another $300 billion out of Medicaid. … I wouldn’t touch federal benefits at all. But it needs to be done,” Andrews says. “That’s what the package would probably look like.”
If the package looks like that, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), who supports the idea of a $4 trillion reduction, might not be on board.
Rooney is skittish about defense reductions beyond the $450 billion already handed down by the Budget Control Act. “I’m not for any more defense cuts, or tax increases,” Rooney says. “But I’m for getting something done.”
Rooney says the legacy of this Congress is at stake and he wants to send the message to the super committee that there are a number of lawmakers who want them to succeed.
“I can’t imagine any Congress doing less than this Congress has done,” he says.