Sunlight Live Team to Cover “Super Committee” Discussion of Simpson-Bowles and Previous Debt Proposals


The so-called super committee will meet in public tomorrow for only the fourth time, when it looks at recent efforts to reduce the debt in a session titled “Overview of Previous Debt Proposals."

And the Sunlight Live team will bring you the events as it unravels in the hearing room and provide context to the discussion.

Key witnesses include Alan Simpson, former Republican Senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, a businessman and former White House Chief of Staff during the Clinton Administration. They served as co-chairs on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. President Obama appointed the two men to the Presidential Commission in 2010 with the intention of “…identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.”

Four members of the super committee actually served with Simpson and Bowles on their commission: Rep. Xavier Becerra D-CA, Rep. Jeb Hensarling R-TX, Rep. Dave Camp R-MI, and Sen. Max Baucus D-MT. All four voted against adopting the commission's recommendations.

Baucus said in a statement that he voted against the proposal for reasons that included millions of dollars in cuts to farm programs, changes to the health care reform law, raising the retirement age, and massive reorganization to Medicaid and Medicare. 

Becerra defended his vote against the proposal saying that the plan did not address the war on terror, Medicare Part D and the extension of the Bush tax cuts. In addition, Becerra said he would not support the Simpson-Bowles proposal without legislation to promote job creation.

Camp, who also serves as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a press release that he voted against the Simpson-Bowles plan because it included some tax increases, which he said impeded job growth. Furthermore, Camp did not think the proposal sufficiently reigned in entitlement spending.

Hensarling, who co-chairs the super committee, said he voted against the Simpson-Bowles' recommendations beause the plan didn't go far enough in stemming rising health care costs and would have resulted in a “massive tax increase” for all Americans. 

The super committee members discussed Medicare, Medicaid, tax cuts and increases and job growth in previous hearings and are bound to address them in their proposed legislation. It remains to be seen how the committee, including the four veterans of Simpson-Bowles, will reconcile their differences.

Alice Rivlin, founding director of the Congressional Budget Office, vice chair of the Federal Reserve and also a member of the Bowles-Simpson Commission, is part of the second panel scheduled to testify to the committee. Despite calling for more revenue and less spending cuts, Rivlin supported Simpson-Bowles  and voted in favor of sending it to Congress.

Former Republican Sen. from New Mexico, Peter Domenici, who served in the Senate for more than 35 years, including time on the Senate Budget Committee, will testify along with Rivlin in the second panel. Both Rivlin and Domenici serve on the Debt Reduction Task Force sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center. In August, after Congress reached an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, Dominici and Rivlin sent a letter to Congressional leaders encouraging a simpler tax code, reforms to entitlement programs and a payroll tax holiday. One can expect those themes to resurface during tomorrow's hearing.

If they do — or even if they don't — we'll be on hand to explain it all and put it into context. Join us Tuesday, Nov. 1, at  1 p.m. ET at