From an interesting and dispiriting Politico account of why the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (a.k.a. SUPER COMMITTEE!) failed so miserably in coming up with a puny $1.2 trillion trims in net spending over the next decade:
In the thick of the negotiations, [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid…recalled the days when deal makers could bridge the partisan divide. He visited Ted Kennedy's grave in Arlington National Cemetery with former Sen. Chris Dodd. Dodd poured some whiskey on Kennedy's grave while Reid recited a prayer, the majority leader told lobbyists at a meeting, according to attendees. He told the group that he missed both men.
Dunno about the rest of you, but if Harry Reid, the very man who conjured up the idea of the Super Committee, was talking like that at meetings of "lobbyists," I would have starting booking flights for Greece from my smart phone. If that's what passes for the sort of leadership that "could bridge the partisan divide," well good night nurse.
In mid-October, with just five weeks until their deadline, each side produced "wish lists" to show where they were negotiating from….
House Republicans wanted to repeal Obama's health care law, implement the controversial House GOP budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), save $700 billion by block granting Medicaid, cut $400 billion in mandatory spending, slash another $1.4 trillion in other health care mandatory spending, save $150 billion by slicing the federal workforce and put a $60 billion cap on tort reform.
Republicans were no more pleased to see what Democrats wanted: the president's $447 billion jobs bill plus well over $1 trillion in new taxes.
Days later, Baucus went before the group to offer what Democrats considered major concessions: a $1.3 trillion plan to cut spending, including from health care entitlements, combined with a $1.3 trillion plan for new tax revenues. Things got heated quickly when Kyl offered a series of objections. Democrats later made the case that Kyl was a serious impediment in the talks, but Kyl said the GOP was giving ground—not the Democrats.
Key point in the above: "In mid-October, with just five weeks until their deadline…" That's a level of commitment familiar to every high school sophomore cramming four hours before the big exam.
Another major reason for failure, according to Politico, was the lack of Barack Obama's manifest interest in the process and an actual outcome (not surprising for a guy who hasn't kicked his party's ass to deliver a budget in the Senate in years), and lack of coordination between Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leading to division among the House and Senate Dem members of the committee.
The upside of any of this? It sets the table more clearly for a true discussion of the role of government in our lives. And it gives the American people—and a few select politicians, most notably Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who has authored a five year plan to balance the budget—at least a couple of months to demand smaller, more accountable government that spends within our means.
Recapping from Obama's budget (since slightly amended after boos but no details possible) and Paul Ryan's GOP budget, which passed the House:
President Obama wants to spend $3.7 trillion next year and $5.7 trillion in 2021.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wants to spend $3.6 trillion next year and $4.7 trillion in 2021.
Rand Paul, bless his soul?
Rand Paul wants to spend $3.7 trillion next year and $3.4 trillion in 2016.