By Nicole Gaudiano
WASHINGTON— Members of Delaware's congressional delegation say they aren't giving up on a comprehensive deficit-reduction package, even as the "supercommittee" announced its failure to reach a deal Monday.
The three lawmakers were among those who had pressed the supercommittee to "go big" in recommending ways to begin to get the nation's $15 trillion debt under control. They had urged a target of $4 trillion in savings over a decade through mandatory spending cuts and new tax revenue.
The debt-reduction committee's failure to reach a deal triggers about $1 trillion in automatic cuts and $169 billion in lower borrowing costs over nine years, beginning in January 2013, unless Congress comes up with an alternative package that saves at least $1.2 trillion. President Barack Obama said Monday he would veto any attempt to undo the automatic cuts.
"I will work with any and all interested members in trying to get approval for a responsible plan that is balanced and fair," Rep. John Carney, D-Del., said in an interview.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said he would redouble his efforts as chairman of a subcommittee on federal financial management to identify ways to get better results for less money.
"I'll still push the $4 trillion comprehensive deficit-reduction plan," he said during an interview. "But in the meantime, I'm not going to just sit around doing nothing. We're going to go after the waste that exists, and there's plenty of it."
Half of the automatic spending cuts would come from defense and half from non-defense programs.
Social Security, Medicaid, veterans' benefits, the Children's Health Insurance Program, unemployment insurance, welfare and other programs benefiting low-income Americans are exempt, and Obama almost certainly will exempt military personnel.
Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals will be cut up to 2 percent. Farm price supports also will be cut.
Education, transportation and aid to states and localities will take the biggest hits among domestic programs, according to federal budget expert Stan Collender. States with lots of defense contracts will suffer more than other states, Collender said, along with states with major transportation projects, those that get back more in federal spending than they pay in taxes, and states where much of the land is owned by the federal government.
Coons said in a statement that the supercommittee's failure doesn't end Congress' responsibility to enact deficit-reduction measures to prevent an economic crisis such as the one paralyzing Europe.
"Greece may have a math problem, but America has a leadership problem," he said. "We still have the opportunity to right our ship by making the bipartisan compromises necessary to confront the very significant challenges our nation faces."