Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Super Committee Redux

Super Committee Redux 

A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

Back in August of this year (2011) I wrote an article declaring that the so-called Super Committee was a farce.  Time has proven the little ole “Swamp Pundit” (“Yours Truly”) has the ability to predict the oh, so obvious!   Had I been truly adventurous, I would have also said it was a “hoax.”  

It has become clear the Super Committee was intended to fail so our less than esteemed President could campaign against what he will, no doubt, refer to as a “do nothing Congress.” 

November 23rd is upon us -- and the “ship is about to hit the sand.”  There will be much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth -- and it will all be for SHOW! 

So, what’s going to happen?  Not much.  Look for the Congress to legislate around those 1.2 trillion dollar “automatic” cuts.  So the Super Committee and Congress will have labored mightily and brought forth – NOTHING.  But, hey, this was the intended goal from the beginning.

Below is the article from last August.  If you missed it, somehow, you might want to read it for a clearer understanding of the Kabuki Theatre we have been witnessing in Washington for the past few months. 

Have a great Thanksgiving!

J. D. Longstreet

The so-called Super Committee is a FARCE. It is doomed to failure. 

Can anyone reasonably believe there is even the smallest chance that a 12-member committee made up of party loyalist from each side can, somehow, be miraculously overcome by celestial waves of bipartanship?  Come on now.  Really?  Seriously?  Naah.  Ain’t gonna happen.

This committee has to develop a plan that features both spending cuts and tax increases.  Seven members of the 12-member committee must approve any debt-reduction plan before it comes up for a Congressional vote.

Now here’s the “kicker”:  If the committee fails to recommend up to $1.5 trillion in savings by Thanksgiving, as much as $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts will be enacted, including up to 2 percent cuts in Medicare payments to healthcare providers.

OK.  Lets look at who, exactly, is on that committee. On the GOP side, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have chosen Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio)..

On the Democratic side, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has appointed Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.).  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi chose Reps. James Clyburn (D-SC), Xavier Becerra (D-Ca), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md).

This Super Committee (The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.) it seems to me, has been set up to fail.  I simply do not see any way a deadlock can be avoided.  In my opinion, the committee should be dissolved immediately and the Congress should suck it up -- and do their darn jobs!

The “poor excuse for a committee” committee is somehow expected to do what the Congress, as a whole, could not do -- and even the President and the Speaker of the House could not do it. 

OK.  So what IS this so-called “Trigger Mechanism, anyway?”  Well, it works like this:  The trigger mechanism is the product of months of unsuccessful negotiations among congressional Republicans, Democrats and the White House to strike a broader deal to rein in entitlement programs like Medicare and to overhaul the tax code. It would split spending reductions equally between U.S. defense and domestic programs.

Understand:  This would be a HUGE cut back in funding for the Military.  At a time when America is fighting three wars, if the trigger mechanism kicks in defense spending would be cut by 9.1 percent over a decade and non-defense programs would be cut 7.9 percent.  If this is allowed to happen, we are looking at a hollowed-out military right when America is sitting square in the middle of our enemies collective bulls eye.

Medicare would be cut by 2 percent.  But that cut would be aimed at the healthcare providers – doctors who care for Medicare patients.

Already, a huge number of doctors are refusing to see Medicare patients.  If their reimbursement is further cut, expect even more doctors to refuse taking Medicare patients.  This will impact America’s seniors tremendously.

The legislation that created this super committee calls for the committee to find savings through spending reductions and tax increases.  REALLY?

Look.  The Democrats will not agree to spending cuts and the Republicans will not agree to raise taxes.  Can you say:  “Deadlock?”

The more I investigate this super committee, the more I am convinced it was set up from the outset for failure. 

And consider this:  If the panel does just happen to agree on a plan, Congress has until Dec. 23 to hold an up-or- down vote on the plan or the trigger will be pulled, setting off $1.2 trillion in automatic, across-the-board spending cuts over nine years.  Of course, this avalanche of spending cuts will not begin until after the presidential election in 2012.  No, the cuts aren’t even scheduled to begin until sometime in 2013.  Heaven forbid the politicians should rile the electorate just before the election!

Now, here’s the thing:  Even if the trigger mechanism goes into effect, the Congress can get around it. They can delay the cuts or even override the cuts if they choose.  (Who said the cuts were “automatic,” anyway?) 

Even if the spending cuts were to actually go into effect, the Congress has the power to turn around and INCREASE the spending by way of so-called “emergency funding,” which, by the way, falls outside the super committee’s caps.  Some have suggested it would not be outside the realm of possibility for Congress to do exactly that.  I mean, they DO have a history of getting, shall we say – “creative,” when it comes to finding ways to spend our money.

There is no way to prevent a congress in, say, 2014, from simply reducing the amounts of the spending cut(s) or just overturning the super committee’s so-called automatic spending cuts.  It would be as if the super committee never existed in the first place.

Yep.  I’m convinced the super committee is a farce. It is just more “slight of hand” by our national leaders to placate irate voters who would like to see America saved from pending destruction.

Prepare for a humongous fight between now and Christmas over spending and raising taxes. 

How do we get past this and get America back on a financially firm footing?  We will do it by replacing Obama in the White House with a fiscally conservative President and with conservative control of both houses of the Congress.  It is only going to get progressively worse until we do.

J. D. Longstreet

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