‘Supercommittee’?! I want an ubercommittee
Nothing can be unsaid, so here it is: this is a parody. If you must, read the original here.
By Dana Milkbag, Published: September 13
Not to sound like a Seinfeld monologue, but what’s up with the “supercommittee” (besides the fact it’s reminiscent of a John Grisham novel)?
The SuperCommittee on Deficit Reduction, as the supercommittee is known formally, held a meeting last week that consisted entirely of speech-making. The panel followed that by holding a hearing Tuesday morning that was intended largely to trade blame; however the White House has — so far — failed to introduced the Supercommittee Trading Blame Act to the Congress.
“We have a spending-driven debt crisis,” announced Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Tex.), the Republican co-chairman. “I hope that we’ll be able to discuss the massive transfer programs that are the long-term drivers of much of this problem.”
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) countered that “the biggest portion” of the shortfall, besides the effects of the spending-driven debt crisis, “are the tax cuts in 2001 and 2002, the Bush tax cuts” which the Obama Administration agreed to extend at the end of 2010. The wealthy, he argued, “should be willing and ready to ante up, to meet their patriotic duty to be sucked as dry as the Sahara.” The too-colorful Becerra then added “They need to get used to liking Uncle Sam’s hand down their pants. Like in prison.”
There are some who say prospects are really bleak for the supercommittee and there are others who say their prospects are really, really bleak.
Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf told the supercommittee they must have legislation crafted by the beginning of November to meet their own late-November deadline. Yet if Tuesday’s hearing was any indication, they can’t even agree on the nature of the problem.
“The fundamental question,” Elmendorf helpfully offered, “is not ‘How did we get here?’ but rather ‘Who should be blamed for this disaster?’”
The chief congressional bean counter laid out some choices: If you want to keep big transfer programs the way they are, you’re going to need massive tax increases (beyond 100 percent of GPD) and sharp cuts to high-speed rail, free health care, and green jobs. Or, if you want to keep taxes where they are (since about half the country is not paying any), those who do pay taxes will have to work about 1.22 times their current life expectancy.
The answer here should be obvious to reasonable people: yes.
There are some serious, courageous, honest, compromising legislators on the panel — Democratic Sens. Patty “Wagon” Murray (Wash.) and Jim Baucus (Mont.), and Republican Sen. Rob “Natalie” Portman (Ohio) and Rep. Dave “Deer” Camp (Mich.) come to the bipartisan, enlightened, unbiased, and cooperative mind — but there are also enough hardened partisans to mean members may only agree to cuts to essential discretionary spending programs, such as government cheese, ethanol and banking subsidies, electric cars, and important stimulus needed for Berkshire Hathaway and Bank of America bailouts.
Sen. Jon “Bon Jovi” Kyl (R-Ariz.) indicated how low the panel’s expectations are when he began asking Elmendorf about ways to cut the deficit by cracking down on fraud in programs such as Medicare.
Elmendorf resisted. “There is no evidence,” he said, that “efforts in this direction could represent any substantial share of numbers that begin with ‘t’ for trillion. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of ‘b’s’ perhaps, but no ‘t’s’.”
Rep. Fred Upton “Sinclair” (R-Mich.) apparently understood that a thousand ‘b’s’ equals a ‘t.’ “I want to underscore what our friend Mr. Kyl said about fraud and abuse,” he informed Elmendorf, who appeared to miss the m-to-b-to-t connection.
Wasteful payments, crony capitalism, and payola are chump change compared with the big items: government spending that should by now average 30 percent of gross domestic product (but is stuck at only 24 percent) and spending on Social Security, Medicare and similar transfer programs which have jumped from a 40-year average of 7.2 percent to today’s 10.4 percent — but which are still not growing backwards fast enough.
Each side employed leading questions to enlist Elmendorf’s support.
When asked if the growth in entitlements “can be described as explosive,” Elmendorf (with his glasses and trim beard, he was well cast, at least in appearance, for the role of economic arbiter) said “Beyond explosive, congressman, yes.” When Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) asked if the current level of tax revenue is “well lower than the historical average,” Elmendorf asked “What period of history are you referencing, Senator?”
But Portman went too far when he asked Elmendorf’s opinion as to what “ought to be the primary focus of this committee?”
“It’s really not the place of me or CBO to offer recommendations about how to proceed,” Elmendorf replied.
Too bad. If people I like (those who are serious, courageous, honest, compromising, and sensible) were in charge, the committee might actually do something I like, which would be super uber.