OTHER VIEW: Supercommittee was cynical sham that stained CongressThe failure of the bipartisan deficit-reduction congressional supercommittee is a disappointment, but not a surprise.
By: Editorial board, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead
The failure of the bipartisan deficit-reduction congressional supercommittee is a disappointment, but not a surprise.
... The partisan divide that might have been bridged by the supercommittee remained wide because Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate refused to budge: Republicans from a no-taxes stance, Democrats from making adjustments to entitlement programs.
... What makes the wasted work of the supercommittee all the more disgusting to Americans who’ve been paying attention is that the members had at least two good blueprints from which to start. The first was the work of the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Six,” which outlined a plan for deficit reduction that appeared balanced and pragmatic.
The second drew heavily from the labors of the Gang of Six. It came from a bipartisan group headed by Democrat Erskine Bowles and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming. Straight-talking Simpson warned that if sensible revenue enhancements and entitlement changes were not adopted, the nation would continue to race toward the financial abyss.
So be it, say the men and women who are supposed to find solutions to the nation’s most difficult problems. The deficit, debt and potential fallout from doing nothing significant are among the most intractable and alarming problems the nation has ever faced. Yet, Republicans refuse to compromise, having instead opted for signing an irresponsible no-tax-increases pledge by the monumentally irresponsible uber-conservative Grover Norquist. Government by Norquist is a recipe for disaster.
On the other side, Democrats in leadership positions have refused to even listen to reasonable voices among their own members regarding necessary changes in entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security. Instead, they are pandering to those who fear and resist any changes in entitlements, hoping for political gain by scaring elderly and near-elderly voters.
Supercommittee members have spent the last few days assigning blame to each other. It’s been a pathetic display of congressional dysfunction fueled by the worst kind of partisanship. Of course, they will get away with it in large part because the automatic-cuts threat that was supposed to motivate the supercommittee is meaningless. The $1.5 trillion in across-the-board cuts don’t happen for at least a year, giving lawmakers time for manipulations of the proposed spending reductions.
It’s been a cynical sham that further reveals why Americans hold Congress in such contempt.