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From jobs plan to tax cuts, can deficit ‘super committee’ handle mission creep?

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But big cuts are not necessarily incompatible with job creation, she adds, so long as the overall package is large enough to include targeted spending on jobs. “The plan has to be smart, spread over a decade, with other pieces for growth that will actually create jobs,” she says.

The deficit reduction “super committee,” as it has come to be known, was proposed as a sweetener during a bitter debate last July over raising the national debt limit to $17 trillion – a move that many tea partyers and GOP conservatives had pledged to oppose. It’s now the defacto clearinghouse for major spending legislation for the 2012 fiscal year.

The panel has until Nov. 23 to present a roadmap to getting the nation back on a fiscally sustainable course over the next 10 years. Congress must vote the package up or down on an expedited track – no amendments, no filibuster – by Dec. 23. Failure to do so would trigger deep cuts in discretionary spending, half to be sustained by the Pentagon, after January 2013.

But the 12-member panel begins its work deeply divided on basic assumptions on what caused the nation’s unsustainable deficits and how to curb them. Republicans see the issue mainly or solely as too much government spending. Democrats tend to see the problem as not enough government revenue, plus Bush-era policies – including historic tax cuts and two wars – paid for on credit.

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