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Monday, October 24, 2016

“Super committee” Inspires Little Confidence

Congressional leaders have begun naming their selections for a powerful “super committee” that will search for ways to slash $1.5 trillion from the deficit before Nov. 23. The super committee — which was established in the last-minute deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default by the U.S. government — will consist of six Democrats and six Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will each make three selections for the group. The bipartisan committee will be able to approve a deal by a simple majority, meaning that only one member would have to cross party lines to bring a plan directly to a vote by both houses of Congress.

On Tuesday, Reid announced his picks: Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who will serve as co-chair. Although House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has not yet named her selections, Reid’s choices suggest that the Democratic half of the super committee will be quite liberal. Murray, Kerry, and Baucus have long been known as strident defenders of Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, and other entitlements that many Republicans hope to cut into in an effort to reduce spending. Furthermore, Kerry’s history as the Democrats’ 2004 nominee for president (and as one of Republicans’ favorite targets for scorn) along with Murray’s current position as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee promise to add an even greater political dimension to the committee.

On the Republican side, McConnell named conservative Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Kyl (R-Ariz.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to the super committee. McConnell’s choices are certain to upset Democrats; Portman spent two years as budget director for the Bush Administration, Kyl frequently enrages liberals with his hardline positions on immigration and abortion rights, and Toomey is a former president of the Club for Growth who was swept into office on a wave of Tea Party support.

Boehner (R-Ohio) also chose three staunch conservatives, selecting Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), who will serve as co-chair alongside Murray. All three congressmen have pledged not to increase taxes; Camp said on Wednesday that he will use his spot on the committee to fight against “job-killing tax increases as a way to reduce our debt and deficits.”

On its face, the deficit super committee seems almost certain to be bogged down in the same kind of partisan gridlock that has plagued Congress for the better part of a decade. The liberals and conservatives in Congress have done such a poor job working together in the past that it is hard to see why this committee would prove to be more effective. There is, however, some hope that fear of the across-the-board spending cuts that are triggered if no deal is reached by Thanksgiving will force cooperation.

Americans are clearly fed up with Congress right now, and the partisan selections for the deficit super committee don’t figure to help. Sixty-eight percent of voters believe that lawmakers who shared their view on the debt ceiling negotiations should have compromised, 77 percent believe that Congress acted like spoiled children during the debt ceiling negotiations, and only 24 percent of voters believe that most members of congress deserve re-election. If Congress approaches the deficit super committee in the same manner that they approached the debt ceiling debate — with Democrats refusing to make cuts to social programs, Republicans refusing to raise taxes at all, and both parties refusing to compromise — then voters’ cynicism about government isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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Copyright 2011 The National Memo
  • Dave Easley

    You said, “Murray, Kerry, and Baucus have long been known as strident defenders of Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, and other entitlements that many Republicans hope to cut into in an effort to reduce spending.”

    Hold it right there! I’m not so much mad as incredulous. For starters, stop including Social Security as an entitlement. Titles matter and that title doesn’t fit social security. That’s our own money that we put in on the promise of getting it back should we live long enough. No one can get social security that hasn’t paid in for at least ten years. It’s a mandatory, government contracted retirement plan. By allowing the enemy congressmen (yes, the ENEMY. Let’s be clear on that. They are bought and paid for by extremely wealthy people who want to stay that way at the expense of the poor and the middle class and they behave as the worst kind of enemy using dirty tricks like re-defining terms such as the one in question and getting away with it.) to classify social security as an entitlement you are giving up hallowed ground to the enemy without batting an eye.

  • doloresk

    I agree with the article that states social security is NOT an entitlement. I paid into it for about 50 years now. Just give me MY money back plus interest & that is fair. Only want what I paid in and the interest I lost while the Govt used it. An entitlement does NOT involve giving me back something I had in the first place.

  • Jael Lis

    Mr Easley, you are partially correct. A portion of what what people expect to receive back from SS is their own money. Employers, those dreaded buisness owners, pay in an equal amount. Those who pay in for only the minimum number of years or live to a ripe old age will likely receive much more than their contribution.

    The whole system was set up so that the cost of providing for a few was spread over all workers. Who knew people would begin living longer or that a massive number of eligible recipients would come on to the SS books at the same time? I guess those who set up the system didn’t have much foresight.

    The ‘enemy’ as you regretfully see them recognize the fact that, as is, Social Security is not very secure at all. The system must evolve or it is destined to fail. Perhaps the current ideas for reform aren’t the best answer – maybe they are. One thing for sure though is that if something isn’t done to deal with an obvious flaw in SS benefits will not be altered they will simply go away.

    Who will win then?

  • James Edward Emmett Fox

    Like Solomon everyone is right. We, most did or will pay in for 50 years. I started getting payback in my 62.5 year.
    I am already in the plus mode.
    We all need to step back and realize what is real. Particularly that middle class people have not really gained in
    the last 20 years.
    A word to the “rich”. If you keep up your ways the people, Republican and Democrat alike will start to take
    all of what you have.
    There is no guarantee that people will sit still for too much longer.
    Not a threat just a prophecy.


    bunch of teds down there in congress, just chafing all the time.

  • guava46

    Why are there no Accountants or independants? People who haven’t made up their minds before starting negotiations? The politicians are the people who put us into this situation. It’s time for math people to find the formula to get us out. The politicians have comingled Social Security funds to the point they can’t agree on a way to put back the funds they pulled out to pay for unfunded projects. Social Security is a “guaranteed” fund for retirement of it’s members. Maybe the government should pay their debts to the American Public first. The country can raise more tax dollars by lowering the tax rates, installing a flat tax, and removing tax breaks for corporations which send jobs overseas. The rich who can afford to hire workers don’t deserve a break until they do hire workers. And when they do hire people it’s a cost of doing bussiness, which already provided for in the tax system.