Utah League of Cities and Towns

Making Life BETTER

Congressman Jim Matheson (D) – Super Committee

Please explain the measures that you would recommend if you were a member of the Super Committee and briefly discuss what the potential impact of the Super Committee could be on Utah.

Now that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction–the “super committee”–did not meet its Nov. 23rd deadline to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, the public may be wondering–what’s next? I agree with many Utahns who find it ridiculous that committee members could not strike a deal.

This summer, Congress passed a bill–The Budget Control Act of 2011– calling for more than $2 trillion in cuts. Action by Congress in August eliminated $900 billion (over ten years) in spending from the federal budget and established the super committee. That group faced two options. Plan A was to identify the remainder of the cuts, totaling about $1.2 trillion. But if they failed, the law specified Plan B – automatic spending cuts across defense and non-defense accounts. So cuts will happen even though the super committee did not reach consensus. Under Plan B, beginning in 2013, $109.3 billion will be cut each year, divided equally between defense and non-defense. Exempted from automatic cuts are benefits to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, civilian and military retirement and low-income assistance. The idea was that Plan B would be so painful that the super committee would be motivated to succeed with Plan A. I’m deeply disappointed that the super committee went with Plan B, rather than reach the tough, bipartisan decisions they were selected to make.

I joined 150 bipartisan members of the House and Senate in advocating for Plan C–an option that called on the super committee to do more–to “go big”–and find more significant deficit reduction. We shared the view of most economists that merely meeting the minimum in debt reduction isn’t good enough. We believe that going big improves the chance for success in that it requires shared sacrifice across the board, with no “sacred cows” off limits.

Bringing the debt under control will require tackling the growth of entitlements and reforming the tax code so that it promotes economic growth and job creation. Most Utahns I talk to are ahead of the politicians in that regard–they are ready to step up to this challenge for the good of the country.

There is still time for us to come together in a bipartisan way and achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction. Bold steps to address the deficit challenge will stabilize our nation’s fiscal situation and be a boost to economic growth. I stand ready to roll up my sleeves and make that happen.

Please describe your standing committee assignments (and other committee assignments, if relevant). How do those committees impact Utah cities and towns, and how does your membership on that committee benefit Utah?

Congressman Matheson serves on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, an exclusive committee with the broadest jurisdiction of any Congressional committee. The Energy and Commerce Committee deals with energy policy, consumer protection, food and drug safety, health care, air quality and environmental health, telecommunications and interstate and foreign commerce. Matheson is a member of the Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.