All eyes are on the Agriculture Committees and whether they release a package of spending cuts and policy proposals to the Super Committee in the next week. After all, the Super Committee has until just November 23 to write a comprehensive bill that would achieve $1.2 trillion in savings, and the Agriculture Committees committed to getting them a $23 billion installment on their goal back in the letter they sent in October (link to blog post about letter
). However, current press reports are less than optimistic about the Super Committee's ability to come up with an agreement by that date. What happens if the Super Committee fails to come up with a package by November 23? A few possibilities:
- Option 1: Congress and the President extend the deadline for the Super Committee's legislation. What is enacted into law can always be changed at a later date, so the House, Senate, and President could simply decide that the Super Committee needs to be given more time to craft a solution.
- Option 2: The Super Committee initiative is deemed a failure, and the automatic spending cuts that were to be enacted if the Super Committee effort did not produce $1.2 trillion in savings go into effect on January 1, 2013. Included in these cuts are mandatory across-the-board cuts to USDA programs as well. However, such cuts would not affect certain programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program and the nutrition programs. With regard to a 2012 Farm Bill, both Committees would likely try to fashion legislation that could pass both chambers early next year. Such a package would be unlikely to have the "protection" of the Super Committee product, however, in that it would be subject to amendment.
- Option 3: The Super Committee initiative is deemed a failure, and Congress and the President agree to change the law to prevent the mandatory spending cuts from happening. This option has been floated recently by several Members of Congress that are viewing the Super Committee process as having already failed and are concerned about the effects of the cuts most especially on the military. While those cuts are certainly unpopular, they were designed that way to give an incentive to the Super Committee to complete its work. The obstacle to this option would be securing agreement from all the parties who signed off on the Budget Control Act back in August to unravel what they put in place.
Overlaying all of these possibilities is the reaction from both the public at large and the financial markets specifically to a failure of the Super Committee to achieve its goal in the timeline set forward in the Budget Control Act.
Only eleven days are left till we know for sure whether the Super Committee pulls together Super legislation, and negotiations do not really happen until the bitter end. The question without an answer at this point is whether we are currently at that end or not.