Fourth “Supercommittee” Meeting to Review Tax Code


Thursday morning the Super Committee will convene for the fourth time since its creation in response to the debt crisis over the summer. The committee, officially named the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, conducted a breakfast meeting behind closed doors Sept. 15, despite the insistence of transparency by government watchdog groups and fellow legislators. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., released a statement expressing his disappointment regarding the private breakfast.

At the last open meeting, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director, Doug Elmendorf administered a dose of reality to members when answering their questions. Elmendorf stated that in order for the CBO to score the proposed legislation by Thanksgiving, the committee would have to submit it by the end of October, ultimately moving up the deadline set for the committee. Elmendorf also reminded the panel that cuts must be made in the trillions, “with a ‘T’,” he remarked. 

Thursday’s hearing is titled “Revenue Options and Reforming the Tax Code.” Thomas Barthold, Chief of Staff to the Joint Committee on Taxations, is scheduled to testify. Barthold’s testimony will come after a week of political positioning by Republicans and President Obama regarding revisions to the tax code. Obama said that he would not support any debt plan that cut Medicare benefits. He also presented a plan to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Republicans charged Obama with inciting “class warfare.”

Several Super Committee members will be under pressure from top campaign donors who have lobbied Congress regarding tax policy. For example, Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI. received $78,000 from DTE Energy, a company that spent $1.5 million in 2011 on lobbying for various issues, but previously lobbied on several specific tax related issues. Another example is the connection between Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT, and New York Life Insurance. The largest mutual-fund life insurance company in the United States contributed nearly $100,000 to Baucus since 1989.  In 2011, New York Life Insurance spent more than $2.7 million on lobbying Congress on various issues, including taxes.

Join the Sunlight Live team Thursday morning at 10 a.m. EST as we not only live blog from the committee hearing but also provide real-time context and fact checking.