Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reid Names Choices For Debt Super Committee

Senate Majority Leader taps Sens. Murray, Baucus and Kerry; Murray will be co-chair...
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced today that he has tapped Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to be co-chair of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, the so-called 12-member "Super Committee" charged with creating a plan for more than $1 trillion in spending cuts by the end of this year under the new debt legislation.  President Obama campaigned aggressively for Murray's re-election in the 2010 midterms, traveling to Washington state multiple times to support her successful re-election bid. She is a senior appropriator and Budget Committee member, and also chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has made the GOP’s focus on overhauling Medicare a centerpiece of its 2012 campaign. Reid also named Sen Max Baucus (D-Mont), chair of the Senate Finance Committee and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) as his other choices. (Above: The President and Murray in a Seattle bakery in August 2010)

The work of the 12-member committee, Reid's addition to the debt bill, has taken on a new level of hysteria after Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time in the nation's history. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) each get to name three members to the committee, but have yet to announce their choices. They have until August 16th to do so.

"The Joint Select Committee has been charged with forging the balanced, bipartisan approach to deficit reduction that the American people, the markets and rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s are demanding,” Reid said in a statement. “To achieve that goal, I have appointed three senators who each posses an expertise in budget matters, a commitment to a balanced approach and a track record of forging bipartisan consensus.”

Kerry, Baucus and Murray issued a joint statement, and said they are serious about the mandate to “step beyond partisanship and politics” and achieve a “balanced, pragmatic and practical” solution to the soaring national debt."

The impact of the debt recommendations on agriculture, food safety, and federal nutrition programs has yet to be determined, but there are worries that it will lead to a rushed 2012 Farm Bill, a lack of funding for food safety initiatives under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and a reduction in the SNAP (Food Stamps) and WIC funding from USDA, among other federal nutrition programs. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said earlier this week that it’s premature to speculate on the effects of recent credit rating downgrades on farm loans and farm programs or on the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill debate, but wild speculation has ensued in the media anyway.

*AP Photo

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