Created by on 09/19/2011

The new Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (JCDR), created by the passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011, met for the first time on September 8th to begin the difficult task of identifying funding cuts to reduce the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. Co-Chairman Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) led the hour-long session at which members delivered short opening statements and voted to approve a set of rules to guide the operation of the committee. The rules state all committee hearings must be announced seven days in advance, and that a website will be established to provide public access to JCDR publications, audio/video coverage of hearings, hearing testimony, bill text, and other materials. In addition, committee hearings shall be open to the public unless a quorum of members vote to adjourn to a closed session. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the other co-Chairman of the panel, also indicated that a schedule of additional hearings was in the process of being finalized and would be released soon. An archived webcast of the meeting is available on the JCDR’s new website.

On September 13th, the JCDR convened its first official hearing entitled “The History and Drivers of Our Nation’s Debt and Its Threats.” Dr. Douglas Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, testified that putting the federal budget on a sustainable path will require significant changes in spending policies, tax policies, or both. He also warned that if changes are made too quickly, they could have a substantial impact on the pace of economic recovery during the next few years. In concluding his statement, Dr. Elmendorf urged the JCDR to think about how much deficit reduction should be accomplished, how quickly it should be implemented, and what elements (taxes, spending cuts, etc.) should be included in their recommendations.
The JCDR’s next hearing will take place on Thursday, September 22nd. Thomas J. Barthold, Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, will discuss revenue options and reforming the tax code.