If ever there were a poorly named experiment in political dysfunction, it must be the “Super Committee”. The antonyms of “super” are a better fit for the political pansies in our legislature. Consider that these twelve “statesmen” were asked to cut $1.4 trillion out of the 10-year federal budget of $44 trillion. And they failed.
Here’s the numbers:
- US annual tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
- Annual federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
- Annual growth in debt: $1,650,000,000,000
- Total US Debt: $15,034,000,000,000
- Super Committee target cuts (over ten years): $1,200,000,000,000
- Annual realized cut: $120,000,000,000
- US Debt in 10 years with current spending / deficit levels: $30,000,000,000,000
- US Debt in 10 years with target cuts: 28,800,000,000,000
I know that things get a little esoteric with all these zeros, so let’s scale down these numbers and compare them to a family’s budget:
- Household income: $43,000
- Annual spending: $76,400
- New debt per year: $33,000
- Existing credit card debt: $300,670
- Proposed cuts to annual spending: $2,400
- Credit card debt in 10 years without cuts: $600,000
- Credit card debt in 10 years with cuts: $570,000
Now the super-blaming and super-spinning begins. And the real losers are the American people. I understand that there are deep philosophical divides between the Democrat and Republican parties, but this fiscal insanity is something that we are truly all in together. Ask the Greeks, the Italians or the Spaniards how fun it will be if we keep kicking this deficit can down the road.
I thought the whole idea of these “triggers” was to force this Super Committee to get the job done with consequences of failure too horrible to abide. (Keep in mind, we only had a Super Committee because the rest of congress refused to do the hard work of making tough decisions and compromises.) Well, it turns out that the triggers may or may not be mutable and they don’t go into effect until year after next anyway, so congress feels like they have time to wriggle out of yet another deadline. So they punt. Again. And blame each other. Again. I bet if we charged each member of congress $5,000 per day that the deficit wasn’t cut, they would all find a way to make it happen. That would be a real trigger.
Meanwhile, the rest of us out here in the real world know what it is like to make extremely painful budget cuts in our own lives. We know what it is like to have to work with people we don’t like or agree with and make compromises on matters that are important to us.
Where is the leadership in this country? Where are the ones standing up and saying, “I will do what needs to be done regardless of the effect on my poll numbers, whether or not my party’s special interests agree; I will do what needs to be done for the future of this country.” Congress has a 12% approval rating and I am pretty sure that 12% is composed of congressional staffers, family members, friends, well paid lobbyists, the cast of the Jersey Shore and newly awake coma patients.
I for one am disgusted. So I will fight back the only way I know how: I will not contribute to any member of congress or political party; I will vote all the bums out that I can; and I will blog. At least the latter is cathartic. But it’s a sad day when what unites red and blue Americans is disgust for their elected officials.