Super Committee Democrats Offer (Possible) "Go Big" Plan
Recently, there have a plethora of media accounts and interviews asking policymakers whether they believe the Super Committee will be able to achieve or even exceed its current mandate. Given the gravity of our fiscal situation, the real potential for another downgrade if lawmakers can't agree to significant reforms soon, and the unique opportunity lawmakers have right now, attention has rightly focused on the Super Committee. While we continue to push for a Go Big approach (and as we recently showed, a big package could actually improve the chances of the Super Committee succeeding), congressional leadership and members of the Committee appear to still be working hard.
One new development is a proposal that Democratic panel members have offered a $3 trillion plan, which could constitute a "Go Big" plan (depending on whether or not the package relied on real savings or incorporated various gimmicks to inflate the savings). Details are scarce, but the plan is reported to be about an even mix between spending and revenue and has some additional discretionary cuts, including to defense, with about $500 billion in Medicare and Medicaid savings.
There are reports of Congressional leaders getting more involved in negotiating with one another over potential packages, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) talking with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). There has been scant news about what exactly is going on behind the closed doors of the Super Committee, but according to Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), this is deliberate and "there is an honest working effect that makes one hopeful [for a deal]." This sentiment has been echoed by Republican Co-Chair of the Committee Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX):
"I remain encouraged that the members of the Joint Select Committee know how serious the situation is. I believe they are all committed to achieving the goal and until the stroke of midnight on November 22nd, we still have plenty of time to do the committee's work."
And his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Pat Murray (D-WA):
"We aren't there yet, but I am confident that we are making progress. And I'm hopeful that we're moving quickly enough to meet our rapidly approaching deadline."
One possible way for the Super Committee to achieve a larger package, while under the current time crunched time window, would be, as Hoyer notes, go to a "two stage process" whereby the Super Committee agrees to serious reforms to spending and tax programs upfront in addition to a blue-print for any broader reforms still needed to allow the relevant congressional committees fill in the details. But there's still plenty of time to forge a comprehensive agreement. Just take a look at all the existing areas of the agreement!