Monday, November 21, 2011

Super Bad - The Eternal Adolescence of Congress

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, a Congressional Super-Committee charged with meting out the painful cuts and revenue reforms to the US budget is supposed to come out with a comprehensive plan to balance the federal budget this week. Six Republicans and six Democrats have been meeting behind closed doors for weeks while America waits with baited breath for some modicum of stability.

Reports from major news sources and morning show talking-heads alike this morning say that the Super-Committee is merely a microcosm of Congress as a whole - deadlocked in childish finger pointing and playground shouting matches. Unfortunately for us, their playground is the US economy.

Democrat want higher taxes in exchange for cuts to entitlements like social security and medicare. Republicans want deeper cuts to Federal spending, and have made firm commitments to not increase taxes. Because neither side is willing to accept a reality where all Americans shoulder an additional portion of the burden that this recession has brought upon us, the result is a prolonged stagnation of our government and a sluggish job market. The Federal Government cannot wipe its own nose, let alone stimulate job growth and get the economy back on its feet. The private sector is unwilling to make any efforts to invest or expand because of the uncertainty in federal regulations. All the while the average citizen is the one who is hurt the most, caught in the economic time-out this immature political extremism is compounding.

This Super-Committee stalemate will supposedly lead to a default implementation of deep cuts that were drawn up this summer, when the political fear-mongerers were scaring up implications of credit default in the absence of a debt-ceiling increase. Those cuts include reduction of Defense Department budgets and Medicare spending, among other things. Some political commentators have hailed this as a positive alternative to any of the recently proposed solutions, with the cuts removing almost $170 billion from our debt obligation. But while these cuts would offer necessary debt reduction, many argue that the automatic spending cuts would create gaping wounds in our country's infrastructure rather than the precise surgery that we need.

When congress convened this group of stalwart political leaders earlier this year, I had high hopes for the outcome. Surely this small group could sit down together, discuss the nuances behind their parties strategies, and come up with a plan that would meet in the middle. Sure, there would have to be some sacrifices. Yes, it would make life difficult for some Americans. But at least we'd have a solution - one that might actually give our economy the push out of the mud that it needs.

The members of our Super-Committee are choosing instead to sling the mud. Evidently this seems like a better alternative.


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