Deficit deal failure would pose crummy choice

By ANDREW TAYLOR | November 19, 2011 | 12:00 PM EST

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, co-chair of the supercommittee, tells reporters outside his office that the deficit reduction panel would work over the weekend as the deadline for its work nears, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — If the deficit-cutting supercommittee fails, Congress will face a crummy choice.

Lawmakers can allow payroll tax cuts and jobless aid for millions to expire. Or they can extend them and increase the nation's $15 trillion debt by at least $160 billion.

Next month is shaping up to be a chaotic legislative dash for the exits, and also caught up is the need to pass legislation to prevent an almost 30 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors.

Several popular business tax breaks and relief from the alternative minimum tax also expire at year's end.

It was hoped that a supercommittee plan would have served as a way to carry all those expiring provisions into law.

If the panel fails, a dysfunctional Congress will have to sort it all out.