Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Co-Chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, issued a statement on August 24. “[W]e are engaging in serious discussions to determine what set of rules will govern the committee’s operation, examining a schedule of potential meetings and exploring how to build a committee staff that will help us achieve success. Additionally, most of the committee members are reviewing the deficit reduction work that many others have engaged in over the past several years.”
The statement did not address when the Committee will hold its initial organizational meeting (the law that created the Committee, the Budget Control Act, requires the first meeting be held by Sept. 16). It also remains unclear whether the Committee’s proceedings will be open to the public and who will be selected for the important job of staff director. Several lawmakers and open government organizations have urged the Committee to hold its meetings in public. The Budget Control Act specifies that the Committee’s first meeting be open to the public, but leaves it up to the Committee to craft its own rules for subsequent meetings.
According to press reports, the Committee also is building a website designed to provide the public with a way to weigh in with their ideas and their thoughts to reduce the deficit.
The deficit reduction work alluded to in the statement of the Committee’s Co-Chairs may include the following:
- Fiscal Commission December 2010 report – The Moment of Truth
- Congressional Budget Office (CBO) March 2011 report – Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options
- Government Accountability Office (GAO) March 2011 report – Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue
- Ryan 2012 House Budget Resolution – The Path to Prosperity
- 2011 Continuing Resolution – Policy Riders
- Bipartisan “Gang of Six” Senators’ July 2011 Draft Plan
- Joint Economic Committee Republicans June, 2011 report – Maximizing America’s Prosperity: Lessons on Fiscal Rules from Other Developed Countries and U.S. States
Unfortunately, a number of recommendations proposed by these efforts would be very harmful to people with intellectual disabilities and their families, such as block granting Medicaid, reducing the federal matching rates for Medicaid services, using a different measure of inflation (the “chained consumer price index (CPI)”) to calculate cost of living adjustments for Social Security, and the repeal of the CLASS program.
Therefore, The Arc will continue to work diligently to ensure that these proposals are not included as part of Congress’ deficit reduction efforts.