Following are comments from some members of the congressional delegation from the Tri-State area about the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, known as the supercommittee, to reach a deficit reduction plan:
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.
“I am enormously disappointed that the Supercommittee has failed to come out with a comprehensive plan that can provide a framework that will help our nation’s economy recover from this pro-longed recession.
“This was doable and the American people are justified in being disappointed that the supercommittee could not put aside partisan differences to seek a compromise that will create jobs, stimulate future economic growth and reduce our budget deficit.
“Sequestration is a drastic step. It does not take effect until 2013 and I urge my congressional colleagues to work together to develop a plan that will rebuild America by stimulating job growth, helping small businesses succeed and investing in our nation’s future.
“I believe we can achieve these goals while we also address our budget deficit in a responsible, balanced and fair manner.”
U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md.
“As families in Maryland and across the country get ready for the Thanksgiving holiday, they’re saying, ‘Where are we? Have we lost our way? Are we so mired in partisanship that we can’t seem to find a path forward?’
“The members of the supercommittee on Deficit Reduction were given an impossible mandate with an impossible timeline and they truly pursued their charge with due diligence. But I am disappointed that we could not reach a bipartisan agreement.
“We need a more frugal government that will reduce our deficit and reduce our debt. But the things that caused the debt and deficit should be the only things on the table. Our approach must be balanced like a three-legged stool with responsible discretionary and military spending cuts; revenue; and reform that strengthens Medicare and Medicaid.
“At the same time must protect the social contract between the American people and their government. People who play by the rules and pay their dues through the payroll tax have earned and deserve a Social Security benefit that is reliable, undeniable, and inflation proof. That’s what they were promised.
“I oppose any changes that reduce Social Security benefits. Social Security should be revisited and reformed to ensure its safety and solvency. But Social Security did not cause our debt. It did not cause our deficit. It does not belong in the supercommittee.”
U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.
“There will be direct impacts on Marylanders who are federal employees or work for businesses with federal government procurement contracts as a result of Congress' 'supercommittee' failing to produce a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.
“Marylanders who serve in our Armed Forces, as well as civilian workers for defense agencies and contractors and those working at military installations in Maryland, would have to begin implementing double-digit reductions in at least some of their missions and responsibilities under our current military strategy.
“However, we won’t have more details about all of the impacts in Maryland until President Obama puts them in his budget for FY 2013 scheduled for delivery to Congress next February.”
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
“I am truly disappointed that the supercommittee has failed to meet its mandate, but this is not a time to admit defeat, and the American people will not accept defeat. For me and for the people of West Virginia, failure is simply not an option.
“There are about 140 members of Congress and senators who have stood tall and told the supercommittee we’re ready to ‘Go Big.’ For the sake of the next generation, we want to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction through long-term entitlement and pro-growth tax reform, using the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission’s report as a framework. That is why I urge the president and the leaders of the House and Senate to support giving us a vote on the Bowles-Simpson report.
“I don’t believe that any one of us — any member of Congress — wants to be part of the first generation that hands off this great country to the next generation in worse shape than we inherited it. But America is facing a bleak fiscal picture, with our national debt exceeding $15 trillion for the first time in history and projected to hit $21 trillion in 2021, and the prospect of interest on our debt reaching the level of our current defense spending in as soon as a decade.
“We have a path forward and we have an obligation to our constituents to seize the opportunity to do something big. I hope that our leadership will allow us that chance.”