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Jim Worth

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Super Committee: Superfluous?

Posted: 09/14/11 04:01 PM ET

Congressional leaders selected 12 members to the new Super Committee!

A committee of 11 men and one woman has been chosen to fix the deficit, a deficit that was set in motion 30 years ago.

They began work last week, charged with the daunting task -- given the current partisanship in Congress -- of reversing the spiraling deficit. They already have many obstacles to overcome.

Others have introduced proposals to rein in congressional spending, but each has been rejected for varying reasons.

Can this group find success when others have failed?

Unlike the other groups, the Super Committee has a mandate to achieve $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions and present a proposal to Congress by Nov. 23. The proposal must be voted on by Dec. 23.

If that proposal fails to pass Congress, then a mandatory $1.2 trillion in cuts -- equally divided between defense and non-defense spending -- will go into effect.

It is unlikely that the committee will be able to agree on fair and equitable adjustments given the makeup of the selectees. All six of the Republicans chosen, three by McConnell and three by Boehner, are handcuffed by their pact with Grover Norquist, which limits their ability to negotiate in good faith.

The selection of Senator John Kyl is curious. He has indicated he will not seek reelection in 2012 and is probably headed for a cushy payback job on K Street. He has no incentive to help the people of Arizona or the country -- no reason to do what's right.

Democrats are going to have to fight hard for "the people" because Republicans are battling for corporations. Corporations, sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash and nearly $1.2 trillion overseas, need no help. Hard-working Americans need the help -- help with jobs, with mortgages and with wage growth.

Considering the 12 appointees, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did the best job. Although it would have been nice to see Representative Jan Schakowsky on the committee, Pelosi's selections -- Representatives Clyburn, Becerra, and Van Hollen -- will hold firm against unrealistic Republican demands.

Likewise, Senator Bernie Sanders would have been a great selection by Senator Reid. Can Kerry be as stalwart as Ted Kennedy would have been? Will Senator Baucus, Chairman of the Banking Committee, understand the gravity of the current conditions and that this is no time for economy-killing austerity?

It is difficult to think of this group as "super" considering the intransigence of the six right-wing picks.

Not only are Toomey and Portman freshmen senators, but they should draw scrutiny based on past affiliations. Toomey, past president of the anti-tax organization Club For Growth, which does little to promote growth, will oppose raising taxes. Portman, budget director for the Bush Administration, oversaw some of the worst deficit increases in our history: unfunded wars, unfunded Medicare Part D, TARP. The positions and policies these gentlemen still embrace were the cause of the financial mess we're experiencing.

Four of the 12 members -- Henserling, Baucus, Becerra and Camp -- served on the Simpson/Bowles Deficit Commission. Two Republicans, two Democrats. All four voted against the proposal, albeit for different reasons.

Can they now find solutions all four can support? And, do they all understand the necessity of revenues to reach their mandated goals?

The common belief in the reduction language is predisposed to cuts. In order to effectively address our problem, the group must overcome the "cut only" mentality. Revenues must be included to correct our deficit problem.

Over the last few months the economy has slowed. This slowing is a result of the end of government stimulus and the economy is now at risk of sliding back into recession. Stimulus was necessary because the private sector has been reluctant to help America out of this economic hole.

With slowing U.S. and global economies, the unreasonable Republican push for cuts will exacerbate the problem; austerity will surely push our economy even deeper into recession.

A committee determined to force cuts in discretionary programs and make drastic reductions in Social Net programs at this time will prove to be incompetent.

Before being found incompetent, however, the committee may prove to be unconstitutional.

Either way, the Super Committee is, most likely, superfluous.

 
 
 

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