Yesterday, the co-chairs of the bipartisan special joint committee – otherwise known as the super committee – said in a statement that “after months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline (November 23rd).” Charged with trimming a measly $1.2 trillion from anticipated federal spending of more than $44 trillion over the next 10 years, this not-so-super committee could not reach agreement after months of deliberation.
Rewind to the failed debt ceiling negotiations of this past summer, the same negotiations, or lack thereof, that contributed to Standard & Poor’s ratings downgrade of U.S. Treasury bonds. According to the enabling legislation, the super panel’s failure to reach agreement should now trigger $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts, half from defense and other security spending and the other half from domestic programs other than Social Security and Medicaid. The thinking at the time was that these cuts would be so painful to both Democrats and Republicans, the panel would be forced into agreeing on a deficit-reduction plan in order to avoid them.
Well, guess what? That line of thinking, like virtually all thought in Washington, DC, was clearly erroneous. The bottom line is that our political system is so polarized that no agreement appears possible, at least until after the upcoming Presidential election in 2012 and likely well beyond that. Our government is broken, and it is the American populace that is being held hostage.
Generally speaking, I believe that the simplest solutions possible are usually the best ones. And so, I would like to present my humble solution. We should reconvene the super committee under the following conditions: instead of lack of agreement triggering across the board cuts in defense and domestic programs, it should initiate an immediate 100% cut in the salaries and benefits bestowed upon our elected leaders and staffs in both Congress and the Executive Branch of our federal government.
Under those conditions, I am certain that the Democrats and Republicans on the super committee will suddenly find common ground and swiftly negotiate an equitable agreement.