Members of deficit-reduction panel meet in private

By ALAN FRAM | September 15, 2011 | 9:10 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress' debt reduction "supercommittee" are meeting privately in the Capitol to look for ways to reduce government red ink.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana says the meeting is the panel's first private get-together.

The 12-member panel, comprised of six Democrats and six Republicans, has held two public meetings. It has approved its rules of operation and heard expert testimony on the federal budget's gloomy outlook if action isn't taken to control the government's accumulated $14 trillion in debt.

The supercommittee has until Thanksgiving to approve $1.5 trillion in 10-year budget savings, either spending cuts, tax increases or both. If it fails, automatic spending cuts will be triggered, affecting hundreds of government programs.