Supercommittee Complete With Pelosi's 3 Picks

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The supercommittee of 12 members of Congress charged with reducing the federal deficit by more than a trillion dollars now has all of its names in place. Who's on board and what they will need to do?

MICHELE NORRIS, host: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, host: And I'm Melissa Block. They call it the supercommittee or the Gang of 12. It consists of a dozen members of Congress, six each from the House and the Senate, equally divided by party. And as of today, all 12 have been named. They were chosen by party leaders to come up with a deficit reduction plan worth more than a trillion dollars over the next decade.

NORRIS: The stakes are high as financial markets look to Washington to lead. NPR's Andrea Seabrook tells us more about who these committee members are and what they will be asked to do. She joins me here in the studio. Hello, Andrea.


NORRIS: Now, yesterday, you gave us the names of the six from the Senate and the three Republicans from the House. Today, we got the names of the Democrats from the House who will be on the special panel. Tell us more about them.

SEABROOK: Well, they were appointed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. She chose Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Xavier Becerra of California and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, all three of them very connected to the leadership in the Democrats in the House.

NORRIS: Connected to the leadership, but tell us a little bit more about her thinking and choosing these three men.

SEABROOK: Well, as far as we can tell, these are all three people who are very connected to various caucuses within the Democratic Caucus as a whole. Xavier Becerra, of course, is an up-and-comer but very connected to the Hispanic Caucus. Jim Clyburn has been in the leadership and is very close to the Congressional Black Caucus. And Chris Van Hollen was practically in the leadership. He is the ranking member on the budget committee, and he was in the leadership last time around. I mean, this is really a group of people who are there who have policy brawn, but they're very committed to the progressive, the liberal choices of the Democratic leadership.

NORRIS: So you've got strong progressives. You also have some strong conservatives on this committee. How wedded are they to representing the interests of their various constituents?

SEABROOK: Very. The Republicans on this panel do not want to see raises in tax revenues, and the Democrats on this panel absolutely are looking to see raises in tax revenues. This is going to be one of the big fights here. On the other side, cuts in entitlement programs. And almost everyone agrees that Medicare and Medicaid are the biggest problem in the long-term deficit picture. There's going to be - have to be some restructuring there. Democrats do not want to touch actual benefits for seniors and the poor. Republicans see benefit cuts as a big way to save money in the future. And those are going to be the main issues that they fight about.

NORRIS: And there's still the question of revenues. So with all that in mind, is there a sense that the four leaders who named these committee members were in some way working together so that they could create a group that itself might work together and come up with something that could pass?

SEABROOK: You know, there is a lot to be sort of optimistic about in these choices. I mean, yes, the two co-chairs of this supercommittee, Jeb Hensarling of Texas from the House Republicans and Patty Murray of Washington from the Senate Democrats, they are two strong fighters with sharp rhetoric on these issues. But the other 10, as I was saying, there is a lot of policy brawn here and a lot of people who - I wouldn't say the Republicans are moderate or liberal Republicans, but they are dealers.

They are people who are interested in getting deals and getting things through the Congress. Same thing on the Democratic side, especially in the Senate Democrats, John Kerry and Max Baucus, these are people who like to get things done. So the deck is stacked towards some kind of compromise. That doesn't mean it's a done deal. That doesn't mean it isn't hard. But there's a real possibility here.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Andrea Seabrook. Andrea, thanks so much.

SEABROOK: My pleasure.

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