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Congressman Becerra, a Social Security Defender, Deals for Debt Reduction

The lone Latino on the joint congressional ‘supercommittee’ talks about the challenges ahead

A post on this panel is a high-profile assignment, but also a political risk. Why did you accept the job?

This is precisely why you choose to run for office and get elected. You're asking the people to let you be their voice. I don’t think there is a more powerful and intense experience than the opportunity to be the voice of the 307 million people living in this country.

For you, is anything off the table?

Each one of us who serves on this committee must enter the negotiations sincerely committed to the principle that everything is at stake. Because the moment I say, “I will protect this sacred cow,” or “I agree with a special interest,” that’s when I give each and every one of my colleagues the right and permission to do the same.

Some government programs, including Social Security, are essential for Hispanics and other minorities. Some of these social assistance programs will suffer cuts. Are you going to fight these cuts?

The good news in the makeup of this panel is that we are no longer youngsters. So I think we have a group of 12 people who understand well all the elements of good negotiation. I think you will find 12 people seeking the best solution, but it will not be a solution where any one of us can say, “I got everything that I wanted."

Will the committee be able to meet the deadline?

If we do not complete our task by Nov. 23, by law we enter into another phase. There is no weapon more powerful over us than the statute. We have a deadline.

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