Of the twelve members of Congress who've been chosen to make $1.5 trillion in cuts to the U.S. deficit, three are longtime representatives of rural constituencies.
The bipartisan Congressional team charged with saving the U.S. $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years includes solid rural representatives from both parties. Democrats Rep. James Clyburn (SC-6) and Sen. Max Baucus of Montana and Republican Rep. David Camp (MI-4) have all been named to the deficit-cutting “super committee.”
Camp’s district, in north central Michigan is the 20th most rural district, with 58% of his constituents living in rural areas. And Clyburn’s, which covers much of eastern South Carolina, has 52% of its residents living in rural areas. His district ranks as the 40th most rural out of 435 district. Nearly two-thirds of Montana residents live in rural counties; Baucus has represented Montana in the Senate since 1978.
These three, working with nine other members of Congress, have until Nov. 23 to recommend specific deficit reductions. In accord with the bill that recently squeezed through Congress, if the six Democrats and six Republicans on the committee fail to find $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions, the ax will fall in January 2013 with automatic spending cuts across the board.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she chose Rep. Clyburn, the 3rd most senior Democrat in the House, for his record “as a consensus builder.”
Sen. Baucus has said that lowering the deficit this substantially will require tax increases as well as cuts in spending. “Everyone says ‘balanced,’” Baucus told the Helena Independent Record, “but in my judgment, balance means revenue as well….It’s pretty simple. There is no way of getting around it, frankly.”
Writing for the New York Times, Brian Knowton explains, “If even a single panel member crosses party lines to provide a majority vote, the committee can forward its proposals to the floor of the House and the Senate for up-or-down votes without amendments.”
That member may turn out to be Rep. Dave Camp of rural Michigan. Camp told Reuters that he would consider tax increases to fulfill the committee’s mandate.
“I don’t want to rule anything in or out,” Camp said. “I am willing to discuss all issues that might help us reduce our short and long-term debt and grow our economy… Everything is on the table, until we as a group rule it out.”
The committee’s others members are Republican Senators Jon Kyl (AZ), Rob Portman (OH) and Pat Toomey (PA), GOP Representatives Fred Upton (MI-6) and Jeb Hensarling (TX-5), and on the Democratic side Senators John Kerry (MA) and Patty Murray (WA), and Reps. Chris Van Hollen (MD-8) and Xavier Becerra (CA-31).