Leaders of US Debt Committee Set to Announce Failure

Posted November 21st, 2011 at 2:25 am (UTC-5)
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Leaders of a special deficit reduction committee of the U.S. Congress are expected to announce Monday they have failed to reach a deal to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion.

The deadline for the so-called “supercommittee” to approve a plan is Wednesday, but for that to happen a deal needs to be effectively in place by Monday night.

The panel of 12 members, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, traded blame in interviews Sunday, saying they cannot agree about whether and how to cut social programs and raise taxes.

The committee was formed in August when the Senate and the House of Representatives were unable to resolve the same dispute in order to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. The U.S. government came within hours of being unable to pay its debts and the country's credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history.

This time, if no deal is reached, massive automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs will be triggered beginning in January 2013.

U.S. President Barack Obama is not involved in the committee's efforts, but he is calling on the panel to make tough choices and “do its job.”

A prominent U.S. economist, Mark Zandi of Moodys Analytics, suggests the financial markets will not react greatly if the committee fails because, he says, expectations have always been low. But he says a long-term failure by the United States to confront its debt problem will shatter investor confidence.