Debt “Supercommittee” Begins Formalizing Structure; Few Clues as to Where Members Will Look for Cuts

by Rebecca Farley on August 26, 2011

The twelve members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – also known as the “supercommittee” – have begun the work of establishing the committee’s rules of procedure, setting a schedule of meetings, and selecting committee staff. At question in this process is whether the committee’s meetings and negotiations will be open to the public, or take place behind closed doors. Several committee members have expressed a desire to hold at least some public hearings and to create a website for the committee where information about its negotiations will be published.

The first official meeting of the committee will not be until after Labor Day, when Congress returns from recess. In the meantime, analysts are trying to glean clues as to how the committee members might decide to cut $1.5 trillion from the budget. Committee co-chairs Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) issued a joint statement this week indicating that committee members have been preparing for their work by studying past deficit-reduction efforts and reading up on reports detailing potential opportunities for budget cuts. Although no committee members have publicly declared the specifics of their positions on entitlement program cuts or revenue raising devices, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) indicated at a town hall meeting this week that all options are on the table.

As always, stay tuned to the Public Policy Update for the latest news and information on how the debt committee negotiations may affect Medicaid and the behavioral health safety net. Additional helpful resources include this FAQ from Kaiser Health News (explaining how Medicaid and Medicare could be at risk during negotiations) and this issue brief from Families USA (evaluating debt reduction proposals and their effects on the Medicaid program).


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