The Problem with “Super Committees”

If you’re a liberal, there is a lot to love from the latest debt limit deal coming out of Washington. Like many of the other plans that have been floated around town (except for Cut, Cap, and Balance), it lays the groundwork for massive tax hikes or the gutting of defense or both while “protecting”  entitlements from critically necessary reforms – all things liberals love.

The latest deal closely mirrors the last couple floated around and voted on. It would create a “Joint Committee” that is tasked with finding at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. The difference between this bill and the last couple are the deadlines and penalties imposed on this committee.

By November 23, 2011, the committee must produce a proposal and Congress must then vote on that proposal by December 23, 2011. Either this proposal is enacted or a Balanced Budget Amendment (a stripped down BBA, which would allow for tax hikes to balance the budget) is sent to the states, and then the debt ceiling can be increased again by $1.5 trillion.

If both the committee and the BBA fails, then across-the-board cuts would apply to the budgets for fiscal years 2013 – 2021.

A review of the bill finds the across-the-board cuts ($1.2 trillion) will be evenly split between security and non-security programs. That means that $600 billion will come from security spending, with the Pentagon likely to absorb most of those cuts. In other words, the cuts are incredibly weighted against defense.

Medicare would be subject to cuts under the trigger, but they would only come from Medicare doctors’ payments.  This is bad…and something Washington has tried before. Cutting reimbursement rates will result in doctors taking less Medicare patients, which is why Congress never follows through on cuts which already exist in law. In other words, it will never come to pass.

There seems to be little incentive for liberals to work with conservatives to find additional deficit reductions, especially on the spending side. Either they hold strong for tax hikes and “conservatives” give in, or they block all progress and defense gets gutted. Entitlements remain untouched. Doctors ultimately get made whole through yet another “doc fix.” No consequences for liberals.

So why the acrimony from liberals? The only possible answer is that they didn’t get their tax hikes and defense cuts right now. Oh, and there was not another big-government stimulus tacked onto the proposal like so many had requested.

In truth, the spending “caps” increase each year, instead of decreasing or remaining the same, and the “cuts” still result in more government spending in FY2013 and beyond.

In 2010 there was a committee like this, and look what happened, government grew. All of the other 16 committees grew government, hiked taxes and simply added to the problem. Remember 1982, and 1990? Tax hikes, no spending cuts actually took place. We are heading down the exact same road, and this so-called “super committee” handed the liberals a win wrapped in a bow paid for by the American people.

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