Supercommittee Kabuki And Where It Will Lead


Congress, along with Barack Obama, attempted to negotiate a debt ceiling compromise and it failed — at the cost of our nation’s AAA rating.

Congress failed for a simple reason: Republicans are willing to cut spending, but have no interest in raising taxes; Democrats, on the other hand, want to raise taxes with no spending cuts.

Therefore, since there was no agreement to be had and there were potentially serious side effects to refusing to raise the debt limit, both sides chose to punt to the supercommittee.

This time, either both sides would come to an agreement or there would be automatic future cuts, including significant cuts to the military. Note that I said “future cuts.” No real cuts to spending were even on the table. The only thing that was on the table were cuts to the future growth of programs that could be overridden by Congress at any point in time.

So, the supercommittee got together and it failed. This is no surprise. In fact, the chances of failing were about 99% from the get-go because the only way it could have succeeded would have been if one side or the other completely caved on its positions — which are exactly the same today as they were when the idea behind the supercommittee was formed.

In other words this is all kabuki theater that was never intended to accomplish anything other than to let both sides try to gin up some political cover.

Of course, both sides will claim that the other side was being unreasonable.

Maybe so.

But, let’s be honest: If Republicans had been willing to sign onto tax increases, they’d be roasted alive by their base and Democrats have zero interest in making any spending cuts. Despite their claims to the contrary, if Dems wanted to reduce spending, they could easily negotiate trillions in cuts with the GOP in short order.

Eventually, probably in 2013, Republicans will get to the point where they’re willing to give in on tax increases. There’s a simple reason that will probably happen despite the fact that it infuriates conservatives: The public wants it. The people want the budget addressed with a mixture of tax hikes on the rich and spending cuts. Eventually, they will get what they want.

However, given the nature of the budget deficit, spending cuts must be 3 or 4 times larger than the tax increases and they’re mostly going to come out of entitlement programs.

There. Simply. Is. No. Other. Way.

You can’t tax the rich enough to get the deficit under control. You can’t cut enough out of the military to fix it. Social Security and more importantly, Medicare costs, have to be reduced.

Period.

Or what?

Or we become Greece. Maybe within 5-10 years. We’re that close to a potential crisis point. This is what people like Tom Coburn and Mike Pence believe. They’re right to think so.

Democrats have decided that they’d rather see the country go bankrupt than give up the electoral advantage they get from “protecting” entitlement programs from the GOP, even though the real threat to the people currently drawing on the programs is that we WON’T do anything to change the programs and make them sustainable. Want to see the checks stop one day and Americans who rely on Medicare and Social Security dying in the street?

Then don’t touch a thing.

After we cut defense spending because the supercommittee failed — and we should cut defense spending because we don’t have the money to pay for it — then we’re back to basics: tax increases and spending cuts.

I can’t criticize Republicans for refusing to raise taxes. That was a pledge they made to the American people. I can, however, criticize Democrats for refusing to cut spending. After all, they’re claiming that they’re willing to make cuts while they’re doing everything possible to put on the brakes. But, what I will say is this: the time is coming when there are going to be tax increases and spending cuts in concert because that’s what it’s going to take to make a deal and save the country from being destroyed by the spending of our own government.

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