Aug 25 (Reuters) - A newly-formed committee of the U.S. Congress is beginning to look for at least $1.2 trillion in government savings over the next decade to follow up on $917 billion in deficit reduction already set as part of an early August budget deal.
The 12-member bipartisan panel is studying deficit-reduction work done by others in recent years. The so-called “super committee” must hold its first meeting by Sept. 16.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is expected to outline soon his own ideas for jump-starting the economy, including suggestions on budget savings that could surpass the goals of the congressional committee.
Here is a list of the six Democratic and six Republican lawmakers in the super committee charged with finding ways to cut the deficit.
MAX BAUCUS: A centrist leader known for his ability to work across party lines, Baucus is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and has urged tax reform. He was a member of Obama’s 2010 Bowles-Simpson deficit commission that offered up around $4 trillion in savings through spending cuts and revenue increases. He voted against the final Bowles-Simpson proposals because they would have cut benefits for veterans and the elderly and hurt his largely rural home state of Montana by raising gasoline prices. He fought former President George W. Bush’s push to privatize the Social Security retirement program and is a vocal critic of a House of Representatives Republican plan to privatize Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly.
JOHN KERRY: The unsuccessful 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, Kerry, of Massachusetts, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Finance Committee member. He has been outspoken in calling for long-term remedies for annual budget deficits and the growing national debt. But Kerry also wants large U.S. investments in infrastructure -- to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges, and to create jobs. He wants to do so with minimal government spending by creating a bank that would help finance the projects with a revolving fund.
PATTY MURRAY: Named by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to be co-chair of the super committee, Murray, of Washington state, is a member of the Senate’s Democratic leadership and chairs a political committee that works to elect more Democrats to the Senate. In 2013, she is in line to be the senior Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee after the retirement of it’s current chair, Kent Conrad.
ROB PORTMAN: A first-term senator from Ohio, Portman knows budget and tax issues, having worked in the Bush administration as director of the Office of Management and Budget. When Portman was in the House, he served on both the Budget and the tax-writing Ways and Means Committees.
JON KYL: The second-ranking Republican in the Senate, Kyl, of Arizona, does not plan to run for re-election next year. In the debt limit debate, he was a strong voice against raising taxes as part of any budget deal. He would be a tough negotiator on the super committee.
PATRICK TOOMEY: A favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement that has been the motivating force behind shrinking the federal government, Toomey accused Obama administration officials of exaggerating the risk of default if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling. He rejects administration calls for tax increases and will likely take a hard line on the need for further government spending cuts. Toomey, of Pennsylvania, is in his first Senate term.
DAVE CAMP: The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee wants to balance the budget without raising taxes. This is a key Republican goal and one that most budget experts say cannot be met without devastating budget cuts. Camp has said the super committee would not be the best forum for comprehensive tax reform. He was on the Bowles-Simpson panel and opposed its final recommendations, which he said failed to address rising healthcare costs and included tax increases that would impede economic growth. But in a Reuters interview in early August, Camp, of Michigan, would not rule out tax increases that enabled economic growth. [ID:nN1E77A0VQ]
JEB HENSARLING: As a conservative House Republican, he has pushed for a moratorium on funding designations by lawmakers, known as earmarks, and proposed capping federal spending at 20 percent of the size of the U.S. economy every year. Another Bowles-Simpson member, he also opposed its recommendations. The Texan is a co-chair of the super committee.
FRED UPTON: Now in his 13th two-year term representing a southwest Michigan district, Upton is chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. For most of his career in the House he compiled a moderate voting record. But he has tacked to the right more recently, working to thwart Obama administration efforts to rein in greenhouse gas pollution blamed for global warming.
XAVIER BECERRA: A rank-and-file party lieutenant, the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus sits on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. He is close to fellow Californian and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. He was on the Bowles-Simpson panel and opposed its final report. A solid liberal, Becerra also has ties to the White House. At the start of Obama’s presidency, he was offered the job of U.S. trade representative, which he turned down.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Another party stalwart, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee was part of a bipartisan group led by Vice President Joe Biden that tried unsuccessfully earlier this year to forge a deficit deal. From Maryland, he is former chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee and also is a Pelosi confidant.
JAMES CLYBURN: The senior member of the South Carolina delegation to Congress, he is the No. 3 House Democrat and a Pelosi ally. Clyburn also is an influential member of the Congressional Black Caucus. (Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh, Richard Cowan, Donna Smith and Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Vicki Allen)