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Lawmakers Urge Deficit Reduction to Aim for $4T in Savings

November 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is urging the special committee tasked with finding ways to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit to “go big” and aim for around $4 trillion in savings.

The House and Senate legislators issued the call Wednesday as the “supercommittee” works to meet a November 23 deadline to come up with a plan to cut the deficit over the next decade. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said this issue is about more than money. He said it is about “whether the president and Congress can competently govern.”

Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said lawmakers now have the greatest chance seen in a generation to strike a bold agreement that will move the country forward on a sustainable fiscal path and spur U.S. economic recovery.

On Tuesday, Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress said they are now willing to break a no-tax pledge as part of a comprehensive deal to reduce the massive federal deficit. The lawmakers said they have submitted to the committee a proposal that would include new tax revenue, combined with deep cuts to domestic programs championed by Democrats.

U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has signaled a willingness to restructure costly programs that provide income and health care to retirees. On Sunday, Mr. Obama said he hopes the leaders of the committee will do what is necessary in the coming days to agree on a plan.

Republicans have been reluctant to support tax increases, while Democrats have opposed deep cuts to health care and retirement programs.

If the committee does not come up with a plan by November 23, automatic spending cuts in defense and domestic programs would begin in 2013.

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