* Committee seeks bipartisan accord on deficit reduction
* Senate Republicans tap Kyl, Portman, Toomey
* House Republicans name Camp, Hensarling, Upton
* Three slots remain to be filled by House Democrats
By Kevin Drawbaugh and Donna Smith
WASHINGTON, Aug 10 Republicans named six
members on Wednesday to a U.S. congressional deficit-reduction
super committee that was set up to seek bipartisan agreement on
taxes and government spending.
The panel is known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit
Reduction and was established to find $1.5 trillion in
additional budget savings over 10 years, but markets have been
looking for signs that it may be able to do even more.
Senators Jon Kyl, Rob Portman and Patrick Toomey were
selected by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for
inclusion on the high-profile 12-member panel.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top
Republican in Congress, appointed Representatives Dave Camp,
Jeb Hensarling and Fred Upton.
Like a trio of Senate Democrats named to the panel on
Tuesday, the six Republicans are a diverse group, ranging from
Toomey, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, to
Portman, a budget expert.
Expectations for a fiscal policy breakthrough by the panel
were on the rise as markets whipsawed through the week
following a historic downgrade of U.S. debt and a deal to raise
the U.S. debt ceiling that only postponed tough decisions.
"All three of these nominees understand the gravity of our
situation and all three will bring the kind of responsibility,
creativity and thoughtfulness that the moment requires," said
McConnell in a statement.
FACTBOX-Committee members, contenders [ID:nN1E7721BX]
FACTBOX-Tax breaks on reform hit list [ID:nN1E7701SV]
Senate Democrats were first out of the gate on Tuesday with
their appointments to the panel. They were Senators Max Baucus,
John Kerry and Patty Murray, a trio that analysts said sent a
mixed message about the panel's potential. [ID:nN1E7781VW]
The three remaining slots are to be filled by House
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi by Tuesday.
AN EYE ON ELECTIONS
"The selections to the super committee all have an eye
towards politics and the 2012 election," said FBR Capital
Markets policy analyst Ed Mills in a reference to presidential
and congressional elections in November of next year.
"All of the members selected are serious legislators, but
also members who will have no problem protecting their party's
base ... These selections do give the committee the ability to
develop the savings required in the debt deal, but I still
believe it is unlikely we get the grand bargain," he said.
Facing unprecedented deficit and debt challenges, Congress
has failed in recent years to muster the will to reform the
convoluted U.S. tax code or address long-term funding problems
for the Medicare and Medicaid health programs and the Social
Security retirement pension program.
The tax code, riddled with hundreds of loopholes for
corporations and individuals, has not been comprehensively
overhauled since President Ronald Reagan did it in 1986.
While some Democrats dispute the urgency of the need for
reforming entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Social
Security, it is widely acknowledged that a demographic tidal
wave is fast closing in on the programs as baby boomers age.
The recent recession and prolonged economic weakness have
reduced government tax revenues, worsening a budget deficit
that expanded hugely under President George W. Bush and has
grown further under President Barack Obama.
"Our debt and deficits are a threat to our economy, and
America cannot achieve long-term job growth until we take
action to address this crisis," Boehner said in a statement.
"This joint committee presents an opportunity for both
parties to bring to the table their best ideas, debate them on
the merits, and ultimately come together to do what's best for
our country," he said.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Howard