Supercommittee Admits Failure to Reach Debt Deal

Posted November 21st, 2011 at 6:05 pm (UTC-5)
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The special U.S. congressional committee tasked with finding ways to trim the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade has failed to reach an agreement.

The so-called “supercommittee” made the announcement in a statement issued Monday. The 12-member, bipartisan committee had a Monday night deadline to produce the deal. The debt reduction committee said it ends the process united that the nation's fiscal crisis must be addressed.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers already are blaming each other for the collapse of the effort.

With no deal, massive automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs will be triggered, beginning in January 2013.

A long-time U.S. government economic official, Alice Rivlin, criticized the lack of an agreement, saying it was a “huge opportunity missed.”

Some Republican lawmakers are calling for limiting the defense cuts. But with the U.S. heading into a presidential election campaign in 2012, the debate over spending priorities — for defense as well as health care — is expected to be contentious. Many lawmakers also will be running for re-election next year.

With the demise of the talks, and continuing worries about the European debt crisis, world stock markets fell Monday — with markets in London, Paris, Frankfurt and New York all down 2 percent or more.

The supercommittee's panel, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, traded blame in interviews Sunday, saying they could not agree about whether and how to cut social programs and raise taxes.

The committee was formed in August when the Senate and House of Representatives were not able 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.

President Barack Obama has not been involved in the committee's efforts, but has called on the panel to make tough choices and “do its job.”