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Super Committee Faces Lines Of Lobbyists

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Members of the so-called super committee charged with cutting more than $1 trillion from the national debt are being pestered by special interests from all sides.
Members of the so-called super committee charged with cutting more than $1 trillion from the national debt are being pestered by special interests from all sides.

Dozens of lobbyists line up outside the public hearings of the Congressional super committee charged with cutting $1 trillion from the national debt, and they all have a simple message: support my interest and cut somewhere else. The competing interests are sure to complicate the work of the committee, which includes Md. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D). Van Hollen says he has received letters from interest groups and lawmakers of every stripe. 

"It's a bloody battle in any case, and every group is going to fight with its lobbyists to be heard, to protect their interests," says Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, who has been watching the super committee closely.

 Outside the most recent public hearing of the super committee last week, dozens of lobbyists lined up outside the meeting room before the doors open. Some, like J.P. Delmore, weren't hesitant to state their affiliation. In Delmore's case, he was there represnting the National Association of Home Builders." Others, wouldn't even acknowledge to WAMU who they were representing. A third member of the crowd we asked, Jessie Givens, was there representing the Senior Citizens League. "So I’m just listening for anything that has to do with Social Security and Medicare," she said.

These competing voices can be deafening and there’s widespread skepticism that the committee can reach a bargain. “It won’t happen. End of story," says Mann, of the Brookings Institution. "I mean it really won’t.” 

Party leaders stacked the deck against a compromise by putting loyal lieutenants on the super committee," says Mann. Van Hollen, who is also the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, disagrees. He says no one on the committee will get all they want but he says it’s not an impossible task.  

“At the end of the day in order to be successful there’s going to have to be a principled compromise on all sides," he says. He adds he's focused on the end goal of cutting the nation's debt.

"Whether we get there or not, I don't know," Van Hollen says. "All I do know is that all 12 people in that room come together with that intention. The committee has until Thanksgiving to reach a deal.


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