The Super Committee Has Failed... Now What?
We should all be very afraid by both conservative right and liberal left declaring victory in the Super Committee's failure to reach a deficit reduction deal.
This could and should have been Congress' finest hour. It was a chance to prove the naysayers wrong. Instead every Americans' worst opinions of the leaders they elect have been verified.
Democrats believed the threat of the 'deep' defense cuts and the President's clear declaration that he would not extend the Bush/Obama tax cuts were enough reason to bring the Republicans to the bargaining table with more revenues. Republicans continue to believe the defense cuts are are too deep for them to ever happen and bet the President will cave again on taxes during his own election year. The process was doomed from the start.
Now the extreme left rejoices in the fact that the failure of the Super Committee means that half the cuts come out of the Department of Defense with the other half spread out among all other spending programs. They think the Bush tax cuts are going to expire and deliver trillions of dollars in additional revenues over the next 10 years to help with our debt and deficit. Best of all, Medicare and Social Security escaped unscathed. For now...
What about the inescapable fact that Medicare costs are increasing exponentially? How about the fact that the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted in less than 30 years? How about the Alternative Minimum Tax returning to hit the middle class? In just a few decades Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, other mandatory spending programs, and paying interest due on the debt will eclipse our entire budget. There will be NO money left for defense, Pell Grants, support for K-12 education, police and firefighters, economic development, transportation infrastructure, and everything else which creates and sustains a country for our children. And "baby boomers" will still get an automatic 25 percent cut in benefits before 2040. Yet we argued over changing to a more accurate assessment for calculating adjusts for Social Security check cost-of-living-increases and a few other small changes which would put the system on a sound fiscal footing for the next 75 years.
Meanwhile our friends on the conservative right are now dancing with pride that not a penny of new revenue ended up being raised. Never mind that our revenues as a percentage of GDP, the only meaningful comparison, are at a 40 year historic low. Never mind the warnings of former the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, that the greatest future threat to American security is our unattainable fiscal imbalance, not a foreign military. Our military budget is larger than our nearest competitors' and allies' budgets combined. There are savings to be found in extravagant weapons programs with huge guaranteed cost overruns, an unknown number of defense contractors, and an un-auditable Department of Defense. Indeed, even with the scheduled defense cuts we will still be spending many hundreds of billions of dollars more on our military than anyone else. And I would not bet against the President letting the scheduled defense cuts go through and letting the Bush tax cuts lapse in 2013, AFTER his final election.
The American people deserve better. We need Representatives and Senators who will step up, face the facts, and govern. I for one will push to continue to fight for a more thoughtful, deliberative, bipartisan, and comprehensive solution to our country's jobs, deficit, and debt issues. Our economic recovery, social safety net, and national security all depend on our ability to get it done.