Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Join a Discussion

Weekly schedule, past shows

The Insiders
Posted at 03:40 PM ET, 11/14/2011

Nothing super about the supercommittee

Something important may be happening in Washington. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the “supercommittee,” has been holding meetings, but, so far, there are few, if any, signs of progress.

The committee is not super, and it appears to actually be two committees — one Republican, one Democrat. I’m against commissions and extraordinary committees. We have elections that empower our leaders. We have well-established governmental practices and institutions for taxing and spending. We should use those people and institutions, not create something new just because a problem gets much worse. 

Anyway, here we are, on a blog on American politics. So we have to ask — who wins if the committee fails? Who loses? What next? Carter correctly states that both sides will try to spin any shortcomings of the committee as the fault of the other party, and he is right that the American people will likely not be taken in by this blame-game. 

Regardless of what actions the committee takes, we still have a House, a Senate, and a presidency. The elected members of the House should pass a budget. It should be sent to the Senate, where the Senate can work out those differences with the House, or face the consequences. And that’s part of the problem. What are the consequences? The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over 30 months. Therefore, the president hasn’t signed a budget since April 2009, which was only four months after he was sworn into office. 

The bad news is, even if the supercommittee works correctly, it’s not going to solve our budget crisis. And if they don’t come to an agreement, the immediate sequestration cuts don’t solve anything, either. Oh, and by the way, we still have a massive and growing debt, and our budget and economic problems are getting much worse, while the president mostly ignores this and the media watchdogs chase Herman Cain, etc. 

As mentioned above, this is important, but not easy to follow, because of the secrecy rules that this extraordinary democratic entity adopted for itself and the dry subject matter. Follow the action from some smart economists, including Keith Hennessey, Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal, and Alison Acosta Fraser of The Heritage Foundation. Grover Norquist’s taxpayer advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, which has offered up recommendations on spending cuts for the supercommittee, will undoubtedly be closely following — and grading — the committee’s performance. 

In Washington, it’s easy to be distracted by what appears to be urgent, which is different from what is important. This is important, and it’s not looking good. 

By  |  03:40 PM ET, 11/14/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company