BUDGET DEAL LEAVES MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

Aug, 03, 2011  |  Today's News

The magic date of August 2nd has come and gone with Congress agreeing to raise the debt ceiling. But the implications of the agreement are yet to be revealed and with a Thanksgiving deadline, it turns out will be twiddling our thumbs for a while more.

This week, the House and Senate finally reached an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, which was signed by President Obama mere hours before the deadline by which the U.S was at risk of not being able to meet its debt obligations.

As part of the deal, the legislation creates a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which will be comprised of 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans. It is unclear at this point who will serve on that Committee but discussions have focused around including some or all of the Gang of Six Senators, who include Sens. Chambliss (R-GA), Coburn (R-OK), Conrad (D-ND), Crapo (R-ID), Durbin (D-IL) and Warner (D-VA).

This Joint Select Committee has until Thanksgiving to reach an agreement to cut $1.5 Trillion from the federal budget over 10 years. If they fail to reach an agreement, federal programs, with the exception of entitlement programs, will be cut by 4 percent.

Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has expressed cautious optimism that the proposed cuts included in the debt deal were not as significant as anticipated. The proposed cuts total $11 billion over 10 years. Previous proposals would have cut agricultural programs by up to $48 billion over the same time period.

However, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) has said that he is nervous about how agriculture will be treated by the new Committee and said that he is hopeful Senators Baucus (D-MT) and Conrad (D-ND) will both serve on the new Committee. He believes they are the most likely Senators, currently being considered for Committee positions, who will work to defend funding for farm programs.