Not "any bipartisan agreement."
The announcement was met with scorn by presidential candidate and Congressman Ron Paul, who pointed out that the nominally impressive $1.2 trillion figure would only amount to about one-eighth of the expected 10-year combined deficits. Moreover, the committee could have "accomplished" its goal by merely cutting expected spending increases and not enacting real spending cuts. "This is only cutting proposed increases," Paul told The Hill November 21. "It has nothing to do with actually cutting anything. This shows how unserious politicians are about our very serious debt problems." Rep. Paul has proposed a one trillion spending cut during the first year of his presidency, a proposal that would eliminate five cabinet agencies.
The SuperCommittee's press release says that "we remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee’s work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy.” One can only wonder — considering that the committee couldn't agree on even a penny of cuts — what the Congress would "build on" from the committee's work. The SuperCommittee seemed determined to prove an old joke about congressional committees: If you laid all the committee members end-to-end, they wouldn't reach a conclusion.
Failure by the SuperCommittee will lead to the sequestration process where automatic limits will be placed on discretionary spending for defense and some social programs. The sequestration concept currently in law — approved this summer by Congress — may not last until the 2013, when the sequestration process officially begins. Fox News reported November 21 that "Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., say they are writing legislation to prevent what they say would be devastating cuts to the military. Democrats maintain they won't let domestic programs be the sole source of savings."
But Tea Party favorite Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a son of the presidential candidate, stressed that the sequestration process would only cut out planned spending increases, and would not amount to actual cuts. “I think we need to be honest about it," Senator Paul told CNN's Candy Crowley November 20. "The interesting thing is there will be no cuts in military spending. This may surprise some people, but there will be no cuts in military spending because we’re only cutting proposed increases. If we do nothing, military spending goes up 23 percent over 10 years. If we sequester the money, it will still go up 16 percent."
Much of the impasse among SuperCommittee members can be chalked up to intransigence by the six Democrats on the committee, who insisted on tax increases being part of the balanced budget process. "This is a matter of fundamental fairness," SuperCommittee member and Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry told CNN November 21. "We are stuck on this insistence of making the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent. I think the American people will judge that to be insane."
None of the pretended sequestration "cuts" would take place until 2013. In other words, this Congress will postpone all cuts until after the next election and face another trillion dollar-plus deficit next year. That Congress cannot even agree to stem projected increases in spending many years into the future is an indication of how profligate those running Washington have become.
America is Greece. It's just not playing out in street riots ... yet.
Photo: Rep. Ron Paul