White House Steels for Supercommittee Failure

Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011 09:34 AM

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In private, Obama administration officials voice skepticism that the 12-member supercommittee will find a way to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit by its Thanksgiving deadline. Publicly, they strain to project an optimistic view, The Washington Post reports.

“I don’t think it makes sense to anticipate their failure,” White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew told the Post. “I think it’s important that they succeed. The president made that clear in the calls he made on Friday.”

President Barack Obama placed calls to Democratic and Republican leaders of the panel while onboard Air Force One heading to Hawaii and Asia. So far, Obama has mostly adopted a hands-off approach to the negotiations for fear of alienating Republicans.

“He doesn’t want to do anything that would detract from getting the votes,” former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt told the Post. “If they don’t do anything, then I think the president will try to enter more forcefully.”

The debt panel faces two deadlines: First, it must reach a deal by Nov. 23; then, the deal goes to Congress, which has until Dec. 23 to pass it.

Automatic budget cuts would go into effect if Congress failed to pass the proposal.


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