August 10th, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Nine of the 12 members of the so-called super committee have been named so far…see here for the deets.

First, let me say that these names crack me up…”Gang of Six” made those guys sound a lot tougher than they really were, I think.  And “super committee” implies powers that are much more interesting than the powers these legislators actually possess.

Beyond that important insight, here’s how I view this right now.

The President kind of set this up the other day as follows:

“Last week, we reached an agreement that will make historic cuts to defense and domestic spending.  But there’s not much further we can cut in either of those categories.  What we need to do now is combine those spending cuts with two additional steps:  tax reform that will ask those who can afford it to pay their fair share and modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare.”

So if one side gives on taxes, then the other side will give on entitlements.  And if neither side gives, the automatic trigger kicks in.

I wouldn’t make too much out of the personalities of the group.  The D’s probably would give something on Medicare or Social Security, but not if the R’s won’t budge on revenues.  So the smart money is on deadlock.

One thing on the revs: it’s got to be real.  Beware of a) meaninglessly small concessions like the corp jet subsidy, or b) “revenue neutral” tax reform that raises revenue by closing loopholes but gives it all back through lower rates.  Those options are unacceptable because neither of them take pressure off of spending cuts.

As I tried to show with the picture in this post, and will continue to stress as the super heroes of the committee emerge from their secret fortresses, we cannot achieve a sustainable budget without revenues in the deal.

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5 comments in reply to "SUUUPER COMMITTEE!"

  1. Russ Abbott says:

    Isn’t it the case that all the Republicans need is one Democrat? Then they can send their plan to Congress. I wouldn’t bet on a deadlock. I think it’s much more likely that one of the 6 Democrats will buckle.

  2. foosion says:

    Alas, the more attention given budget issues, the less given to jobs and the economy. I realize that no one cares about jobs and growth other than you, me and the vast majority of Americans, but maybe someday we’ll get some attention.

    Increasing revenues from those who don’t consume all of their income is a better idea than cuts, but neither is particularly helpful at the moment.

    Cutting Social Security and Medicare just makes people less confident in the future and therefore less likely to spend, which would further depress the economy.

  3. tom says:

    We could cut four hundred billion a year from defense and still have a defense budget twice as big as China’s. We could cut it by two hundred billion a year and it would still be bigger than when W took office. So much for “not much further we can cut.”

  4. Wasabi says:

    There is *no need* for the Super Committee. It is a grotesque attempt to frighten Americans into believing we have a bogus “debt crisis” when we don’t. Jared, this Committee is the Mother of All Kabuki Performances. Please call a spade a spade. As you know, what we have is a jobs crisis and a private debt crisis. This committee will aggravate both these two real crises and tank the economy in the midst of a global downturn. It is unpatriotic and unspeakably stupid as well as immoral. By agreeing to the creation of this committee, which would have been unnecessary if the president had done his constitutional duty and acted in accordance with the 14th Amendment, the Dems are showing, at least on the national level, that they are rapidly losing their reason for existence. This committee should be renamed the Super-Recession Protection Committee.

    Jared, our two-party system is obviously dysfunctional and no longer serves the American people. I wish you would write more about this fundamental problem and possible solutions. For example, what would be the advantages and disadvantages of changing electoral laws so that we could have 5-6 main parties, as in Europe and Japan, that were able to realign according to the issues?

  5. Geoffrey Freedman says:

    It seems to me that the administration is using the debt issues to obscure the jobs issue, so they don’t have to own the economy completely. It appears that every response from Obama and his administration is politically motivated, and all sides are mostly concerned with saving or keeping their politicsl influence rather than solving the problems. I am deeply dissapointed with Obama’s leadership. Everyone eat your peas.