Rep. Chris Van Hollen says the super committee needs to focus on moving the economy, but despite that, the panel is making progress.
After joining the deficit reducing super committee for its third public hearing, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) says the exclusive panel he's a part of is making progress. Republicans are calling for steep budget cuts and still want to avoid tax increases. But Van Hollen says the super committee can't just focus on slashing programs. He says the committee needs to find a way to get the economy moving again.
"Even though we've prevented things from getting a lot worse more quickly, clearly we have a long way to go," says Van Hollen.
He says one of the most effective ways to immediately boost consumer demand is to extend unemployment benefits and the current payroll tax holiday - both expenditures are getting a cool response from the GOP. If the committee can't reach an agreement, more than a trillion dollars gets indiscriminately cut from nearly every budget item. Van Hollen says he's hoping that threat will drive the two sides together.
"I think people got a good understanding of what it would mean if the sword of Damocles came down, and would negatively impact a lot of important investments," he says. "So it sort of framed the choices."
Experts say if the super committee fails, the region's contractors, businesses and local governments could face steep revenue declines.