The congressional “super committee” charged with recommending at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction for the next decade announced Monday that it had failed to reach agreement on a plan. Democrats and Republicans each blame the other for the failure, which The Concord Coalition described as “yet another disappointment in a year that has seen many failed attempts at a ‘grand bargain’ on fiscal policy.”
In a new issue statement, Concord warned that while the super committee gave up, Congress cannot afford to do so: “Unfortunately, the problem that the super committee was supposed to address – our nation’s unsustainable fiscal policy – remains. So the mission of the super committee must go on even as the committee itself shuts down.”
Many budget experts and nonpartisan groups had urged the committee to aim for $4 trillion or more in deficit reduction. But the panel’s deliberations were plagued by the same partisan differences that have blocked fiscal reform in the past.
After the committee’s failure, the most immediate concerns involve policies that are set to expire at the end of the year, with potential harm to the fragile economy. Looking further ahead, Congress faces $1.2 trillion in spending cuts triggered by the super committee’s failure.
Concord says lawmakers should not reduce or eliminate that trigger, although they should be free to make adjustments in the cuts so long as the deficit reduction total remains on track.
Policymakers should also broaden the discussion of fiscal reform beyond Capitol Hill. Concord has suggested that members of Congress pair up for “two-by-two” forums in which agreed-upon facts are presented and policy trade-offs discussed with constituents in each of the lawmakers’ districts.