The Super Committee on Debt Reduction has been so secretive and so seemingly calm that we were all starting to fill in the blanks ourselves. I was imagining that they were taking a very worker-like and professional approach to this business of budget cuts and the financial health of America. I was also worried that I might not like the suggestions they could come up with and that I then might be helpless to change such a carefully crafted plan.
Alas, according to Patricia Murphy in an article called “Debt-Panel Stalemate” in the Daily Beast/Newsweek, I need not have worried. It looks like the same political battle lines we find in Congress are equally apparent among the six Democrats and six Republicans on the Super Committee. They came out from behind their closed doors yesterday and reports say that the first thing they did was spend quite a bit of time asking about the financial sins of the opposing party in some kind of blame game.
They did not mention that Democrats had presented them with a plan to cut 3 trillion from the budget through cuts to Medicare and Medicaid along with changes in the tax code. They did not mention that the plan included billions of dollars in new stimulus spending for job creation, and they did not mention that the Republicans immediately rejected this plan. This information came from other sources. It is not really surprising as I do not believe that this committee has any duty to accept plans presented from outside the committee. It does, however, suggest that the same standoff we have in the larger context of the whole Congress is, perhaps, affecting the ability of this Super Committee to fulfill its purpose.
The panel is supposed to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years. If they don’t act we get $1.2 trillion in across the board cuts, an option which is looking more appealing by the day. The deadline of November 23rd is fast approaching. Maybe this committee was simply intended as a way to slowly bleed steam off a scary pressure cooker. Meanwhile we wait.