POLITICS

Lawmakers send advice to supercommittee

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The same law that created the supercommittee gave Congress' regular committees until Friday to submit their advice.

Supercommittee co-chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, right, begins a Sept. hearing of the committee. (Photo: Associated Press)

Some of the letters that Democrats submitted on Thursday suggested specific savings.

Those on the House Financial Services Committee proposed higher fees on large banks, while those from the Education panel suggested a crackdown on workers who incorrectly classify themselves as independent contractors, foregoing some taxes. Other proposed savings included reclaiming unspent money for old water projects, higher fees for mineral production leases and more efficient small business programs.

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, which controls more than $1 trillion in annual agency spending, proposed no specific cuts but emphasized the damage that would be done by across-the-board cuts that would be automatically triggered if the supercommittee doesn't produce a package of savings that Congress approves.

The supercommittee must produce a fair, effective package of savings "and do no harm to the faltering economic recovery in the short run," wrote Rep. Norm Dicks of Washington, top Democrat on the Appropriations panel. "If you fail, dire consequences await our nation."

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees taxes and large health care programs, wrote that the supercommittee must "spur job creation and economic health today." They urged higher taxes on the wealthy while providing tax incentives for companies that create jobs, and protection for Social Security, unemployment benefits and health care coverage.

Rep. Henry Waxman of California, top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, proposed $16 billion in new spending that he said would create 560,000 jobs and save $150 billion over the next decade - one of the few letters to cite specific figures. His suggestions included auctioning space on the nation's airwaves, creating rebates and tax incentives for energy efficiency and forcing drug companies to charge lower prices to many Medicaid recipients.

Democrats from the House Administration Committee, which oversees Congress' own operations, said an unspecified part of lawmakers' own $5 billion annual budget could be saved with more efficient use of energy and technology and its in-house printing.

Republicans and Senate committees will send additional letters to the supercommittee over the next two days.

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