Time to hang up the capes, super committee

David Brancaccio Nov 21, 2011

It’s time for the congressional debt-cutting “super” committee to hang up their budget-fighting capes. No official announcement yet, but it looks like stalemate. The failure to cut at least $1.2 trillion in savings will trigger automatic across-the-board spending cuts to domestic programs and the defense budget in 2013. The committee’s failure raises the possibility of another downgrade of American debt.  That was enough for already jittery markets to drop sharply on the news.

We spoke with Stan Collender, a columnist at Roll Call and a blogger at Capital Gains and Games. He says he never expected anything to come from the super committee, so no surprises today. He thinks most market watchers were as cynical as he was, so he attributes much of today’s selloff to the same concerns about the eurozone that have plagued the markets for months.

If the pin is pulled on the automatic cuts, Collender says the question becomes whether the president or Congress will try to step in to block or diminish them. Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have already said they’re working on legislation to block automatic cuts to defense spending. And Democrats are gearing up to prevent domestic programs from bearing the brunt of the budget trimming.

Also in the show today, the price of chicken feed is no longer chicken feed.

Today, Tyson Foods, the largest meatpacker in the U.S., said profits are down 54 percent, with much of the blame going to the higher cost of grain, the central ingredient in a chicken’s diet. Grain prices have been driven by severe weather in spots around the globe, and have some countries scrambling to feed booming populations of hungry people.

The situation at Tyson and around the world slows down our Marketplace Daily Pulse today.

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