The Super Committee failure reflects our own super failure
Leaders of the congressional supercommittee charged with trimming the federal budget deficit by at least $1.2 trillion have announced that the panel could not reach an agreement. As a result, across-the-board spending cuts—largely in Medicare and defense—are slated to go into effect in 2013.
So the “super committee” failed. Can you honestly say you were expecting a different outcome? The inability of an evenly split panel of Capitol Hill Democrats and Republicans to agree on $1.2 trillion in savings is about as surprising as January snow in Fairbanks, Alaska. Elected officials in Washington can’t even pass a budget anymore, much less agree on politically tough choices about taxes and spending.
Says Brown University political scientist Wendy Schiller, “Both parties chose their own electoral livelihoods over the good of the country, and it is outright shameful. … This might be the most self-serving, mediocre and uncaring set of legislators in Congress in the last 50 years.”
Ask most budget analysts for the cause of America’s ballooning debt — $15 trillion and counting — and they’ll note the toxic combination of skyrocketing entitlement costs, defense spending that dwarfs that of any other nation on the planet and the Bush-era tax cuts.
But if you’re ready to hand our dysfunctional Congress a one-way ticket to political oblivion, don’t forget to leave room on the bus for the American public. Americans voted them into office, and polls show they’re pretty much doing what Americans want.
While six in 10 Americans say they embrace “major cuts” to spending programs, in reality people flinch when it comes to reductions in the largest, most popular programs. Fifty-seven percent of Americans oppose major changes to Medicare and Social Security, while 60% oppose major cuts in Pentagon spending, according to a November 18-20 CNN/ORC International Poll. Nearly 90% of Americans oppose higher taxes on the middle class, the poll shows.
The one idea that wins solid majority support from the electorate is higher taxes on wealthier Americans and businesses. Roughly two in three Americans back the idea, according to the survey. Ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest would generate an estimated $800 billion, two-thirds of the super committee’s minimum goal.