* Committee holds first substantive meeting
* Members seek refuge in Library of Congress
* Committee under pressure to come up with deal by Nov. 23
By Richard Cowan and Donna Smith
WASHINGTON, Sept 20 If location means anything,
the congressional "super committee" trying to attack the United
States' budget ills appears to be isolating itself from public
scrutiny so that it can start thinking big thoughts.
For its second closed-door meeting in a week, the 12
Democrats and Republicans searching for at least $1.2 trillion
in savings are gathering in a secluded location -- the Library
of Congress across the street from the Capitol.
Those who try to read congressional tea leaves conclude one
thing: The super committee is seeking solitude so that members
can focus on the task at hand -- producing a credible plan to
cut huge U.S. budget deficits by Nov. 23.
On Monday, Republican super committee member Jon Kyl said
Tuesday's session would be the first one "about substance."
"Presumably we are going to start throwing some ideas out," he
Apparently, it is easier to do that somewhere other than
the Capitol building where journalists and lobbyists crowd the
An aide to one super committee member, however, denied the
the meeting's location was aimed at keeping curious onlookers
"The members of the committee were looking for a room to
continue their bipartisan discussions in, and this one was as
good as any other," the aide insisted.
The panel was planning a three-hour long discussion,
according to congressional sources, as Capitol Hill police kept
journalists away from the corridor where they gathered in the
With more than 33 million books and printed materials, the
Library of Congress is the world's largest library.
The bipartisan special committee, born out of an August
deal to raise the U.S. borrowing authority, is walking a
There are deep party divisions over the best way to reduce
budget deficits, raising questions over whether it will be able
to cut a deal by its Thanksgiving deadline.
But there is plenty of pressure to do so.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday revised downward
its forecast for U.S. economic growth to 1.5 percent this year
and 1.8 percent next year, down from June forecasts of 2.5
percent and 2.7 percent respectively.
The IMF warned that a painfully slow U.S. economic recovery
could be threatened if Washington failed to produce a credible
plan to cut government borrowing in the medium term.
If it was not enough to have hordes of journalists dogging
their every move, lobbyists calling them and the IMF piling on
pressure, politicians no less prominent than President Barack
Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner are
trying to influence them.
On Monday, Obama delivered to the super committee his own,
ideas for cutting deficits -- about $3 trillion in savings
through a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts. The plan
was accompanied by a warning: Obama said he would veto any
deficit reduction bill that cuts the Medicare healthcare
program for the elderly without increasing taxes on wealthier
Americans and corporations.
Boehner, the top U.S. Republican, last week drew his own
line in the sand: No tax increases.
The super committee is being watched from by credit ratings
agencies, such as Standard and Poor's, which last month cut the
government's coveted AAA bond rating and and voiced concern
Washington was too divided to tackle its deficit problem.
The agencies want the super committee goes way beyond its
minimum requirement of $1.2 trillion in new savings.
Amid all these external pressures, super committee members
say they have agreed that clamming up and not negotiating a
budget deal in public is the only way to move forward.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)