It is not inconsistent to provide effective short-term support for the economic recovery while laying the groundwork for long-term deficit reduction. To do so, however, Washington will have to move beyond the inflexibility and partisan vitriol of the recent debt limit debate.
I heard from a long time Concord Coalition volunteer that some members of the joint congressional committee tasked with finding at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions over the next 10 years -- who are, as you might guess, being inundated with suggestions and ideas -- are only interested in hearing from their own home state and district constituents.
This is unfortunate and another example of why the public must be the 13th Super Committee Member.
The “no new taxes” pledge taken by Republicans in Congress has been a huge obstacle to achieving bipartisan agreement on a comprehensive deficit reduction plan. Many Republicans interpret the pledge as ruling out revenue increases of any kind, even those that close narrow loopholes and special interest deductions. The devotion seems to extend to a “grand bargain” for deficit reduction that would actually enact future cuts in tax rates, but pay for some of the revenue loss from those cuts by limiting deductions and loopholes.
The Concord Coalition is calling upon the 12 members of the Congressional Super Committee to include a critical 13th member in their deliberations -- you. As we discussed in yesterday's post, The American People Want In, the Committee’s decisions will affect every American so it’s only right that every American has a voice in their deliberations.
Members of the new Congressional Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction will have a threshold decision to make: Do they want to take their mandate seriously?
If the answer is yes, they will likely have to make decisions in the public interest that will not sit well with the party leaders who appointed them. If the answer is no, they will heighten public frustration with the political process and risk deep automatic cuts in programs many of them care about.
In this debt-limit game of musical chairs, the music has stopped and it’s time to grab a seat. The only one available is the deal worked out by congressional leaders and the Obama administration over the weekend. It is not a solution to our nation’s fiscal problems and is far from the “grand bargain” needed to put us on a sustainable path. However, a debt-limit deal needs to get done. This one at least avoids a self-inflicted wound caused by the government’s defaulting on its obligations, and it gives proponents of a grand bargain another turn at bat.
The debate over our nation’s finances has now reached what seems to be common place in Washington. As our country sits on the verge of default, both parties have retreated to their partisan foxholes, only coming out to throw the next dose of heated political rhetoric. In addition, nearly every interest group in Washington is scrambling to make sure its programs don’t get cut. Those without a voice stand to lose the most from this argument.