The Super Committee Returns

For the first time in over a month, the twelve member Joint Committee on the Deficit will hold a hearing on their work, hearing from the head of the Congressional Budget Office on spending issues.

It's the second time that Elmendorf has testified - in just three hearings held by the so-called Super Committee; in his first appearance, he laid out a blunt bottom line for lawmakers.

"The federal government is confronting significant and fundamental budgetary challenges," Elmendorf said on September 13.

"The task of addressing those formidable challenges is complicated by the weakness of the economy and the large numbers of unemployed workers, empty houses, and underused factories and offices," the CBO chief added.

Since a late September hearing, the Super Committee members have been almost silent, saying little in the hallways and even giving their leadership few indications of what they're up to.

Elmendorf's appearance comes a day after the CBO issued a report on household income, which seems certain to be trumpeted by Democrats in coming weeks to argue that top income earners should pay more in taxes.

The CBO found that between 1979 and 2007:

  • For the 1 percent of the population with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 275 percent
  • For others in the 20 percent of the population with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent
  • For the 60 percent of the population in the middle of the income scale, the growth in average real after-tax household income was just under 40 percent
  • For the 20 percent of the population with the lowest income, the growth in average real after-tax household income was about 18 percent. As for the work of the Super Committee, the calendar is flying by for members to come to a deal on some kind of deficit reduction package. November 23 is the deadline for the panel to vote on some kind of plan and send it on to the House and Senate - that's the day before Thanksgiving - just four weeks from today.