Back in August, I predicted on Wisconsin Public Radio that the “supercommittee” charged with creating a deal to reduce the federal budget deficit and debt would fail to do so.
On Thursday, this blog passed on the Washington Post report that “White House officials are quietly bracing for “supercommittee” failure, with advisers privately saying they are pessimistic that the 12-member Congressional panel will find a way to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit as required” by its deadline Wednesday.
Then, on Sunday, came the expected reports that the two chairs of the supercommittee will issue a joint statement confirming what the White House has been quietly bracing for for a few days. No spending cuts, no tax reform, and no entitlement reform.
Jim Pethokoukis observes:
It’s like the 1990s never happened and the 1970s never stopped happening for the Washington Obamacrats. The U.S. economy faces two screamingly obvious problems: historically slow growth and historically high government spending leading to massive budget deficits. In this way, American is already frighteningly like Greece and Italy.
Yet Democrats used the SuperCommittee to push a trillion-dollar tax hike and block fundamental entitlement reform. As one GOP aide told Politico, “If they were willing to go a little further on entitlements, we’d see what we can do on revenues. That was the way it would have to work. What we found was, they needed a trillion-plus in revenues, and weren’t willing to do anywhere near that on entitlements.”
It’s been an underappreciated fact just how far left Democrats have moved on taxes in recent years. But it should now be blindingly clear. The SuperCommittee Democrats are perfectly happy to let the top tax rate soar to nearly 45 percent in 2013 (including both income taxes and Medicare taxes) on small business and entrepreneurs and investors. This, even though the exploding eurozone debt crisis threatens to push the U.S. economy from sputter speed to stall. And even if financial contagion doesn’t wash up on our shores, few economists see growth fast enough to substantially reduce unemployment and boost incomes any year soon.
Yet Democrats seem unconcerned or even eager for taxes to rise, thanks in part to the work of liberal economists advocating taxes rates as high as 80 percent. It will also take dramatically higher tax revenue to fund what Democrats argue is an unavoidable surge in government spending due to a) the aging of the population and — as they see it — b) trillions in needed public “investment” catch-up after years of Republican stinginess.
But it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Without market-based entitlement reform — which even many centrists endorse — government health spending will indeed continue to soar.
Rich Galen doesn’t merely place blame on Democrats:
I believe that the need to appoint a Super Committee in the first place was a failure of governance on the part of both parties, in both Chambers and, just to complete the rogues’ gallery, on the part of the President of the United States….
The Super Committee is the latest in a long line of looking for ways not to do what we pay them to do. Automatic triggers are a favorite. I believe the Congress gets an automatic raise every year unless they vote to forego it. Don’t vote? The raise is automatic. …
I feel the same way about a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We PAY the Members of the House and Senate to make good spending and taxing decisions. They have it within their current power to pass a balanced budget each year.
A BBA would just be another opportunity for Members to go home, shrug their shoulders, and tell their constituents they really, really wanted to fight for money to build a new city hall, but “What could I do? The Balanced Budget Amendment took it out of my hands.”
The inability of the U.S. Congress to make even the most simple decisions for fear they will be taken to task by their constituents, is making me re-examine my position on term limits.
I would love to see a serious study of state legislatures which have term-limit laws to see if the decisions made by the members are any better than their peers in states where there are no limits.
The supercommittee certainly was a weasel move and, as I wrote Thursday, an unserious attempt at deficit and debt reduction given the fact that neither U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R–Janesville) nor U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R–Wisconsin) were on it. But expecting politicians to act against what they think are their best reelection interests is excessively idealistic. And the claim that a balanced budget amendment would prevent politicians from, or allowing them to escape, doing their jobs misses the entire point of most of the U.S. Constitution, which is an entire document of protections for citizens from the government. The Constitution may need to be expanded to protect us Americans from the bad spending and taxing decisions Congress makes.
(As for Galen’s last point, I don’t think term-limit laws make any difference as long as gerrymandering exists; term limit laws merely result in the replacement of a politician with another from that district’s dominant party. The only way better decisions are made is if voters make the correct choices, as the 2008 and 2010 Wisconsin legislative elections demonstrate.)
So another political game commences. When does the federal government run out of money again?