super committee


Super Committee, Super Confusion

The "super committee" looks poised for failure — which is a much better outcome than some of the deals that were being floated in the last few weeks. As I wrote on NRO last week:

Recent news stories have suggested that the GOP members have offered to raise taxes by $300 billion over the coming decade as part of a deal that would also include some reductions in entitlement spending. But once again, the entitlement changes will do nothing to change the basic, cost-inflating structures of Medicare, Medicaid, or Obamacare. Indeed, if the GOP were to strike such a deal, it would make it that much harder to do what really needs to be done, which is to replace the entire health-entitlement status quo with reformed programs that rely on cost-conscious consumers in a functioning marketplace.

Moreover, the deal that is apparently under consideration would also rely on Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus to write the actual tax and entitlement legislation, along with his GOP counterpart in the House, Dave Camp. This is hardly a process that builds confidence, as Baucus was a primary architect of the massive government overreach that is Obamacare. Indeed, if the supercommittee’s contribution to deficit cutting is to cede power back to the regular committee process, one has to wonder, what was the point of having the committee at all?

You can read the whole piece here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 11:14 am
Tags: super committee, taxation, entitlement reform

Letting the Super Committee Fail?

I have a new columm up at e21 on the prospects for success of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction:

The problem is not that the two sides can’t put on the table broad budget parameters that look good on paper (although Republicans will never agree to the kind of tax hike the Democrats are now calling for). The problem is that everything breaks down when the negotiations go from broad and general to the specific....

By all accounts, the super committee has made no progress in conquering these large obstacles to a “grand bargain” on the budget.

That being the case, some in Congress are pushing for a smaller, more incremental deal from the committee, to demonstrate to the markets and the ratings agencies that the American political system isn’t entirely broken. Fine, if it can be done. But under no circumstances should a deal which merely tinkers around the edges and does not fundamentally reform the tax code and entitlement programs be billed as anything but a temporary Band-Aid.

In truth, what is really holding back the super committee is that it does not have a mandate from voters to do what needs to be done. That’s going to take another election, in 2012.... 

You can read the full column here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 3:20 pm
Tags: super committee, budget
File As: Health Care

The Trouble with the Super Committee

I have a new column up at e21 on the ups and downs of the upcoming budgetary “super committee”:

As Congress gets set to reconvene after Labor Day, all eyes have turned toward the so-called “super committee” — the special budgetary panel created by the debt limit deal. That’s understandable because the super committee has the potential to be a very, very powerful force in Washington. As constituted, if seven of the twelve members of the committee agree to a proposed deficit reduction plan, it will be brought up for an up or down vote in the House and Senate — without the possibility of amendment from non-super committee members. Further, and even more importantly, the super committee’s legislative proposal can’t be filibustered in the Senate. That effectively lowers the bar of support needed to get a super committee-endorsed plan through the upper chamber by nine votes — from a super majority of 60 to a simple majority of 51.

The committee’s legislative mandate is also sweeping. It is charged with finding a minimum of $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the coming decade to avoid the same amount getting cut automatically and indiscriminately from a wide array of spending programs, including Medicare and the defense budget. To meet its deficit cutting objective, the super committee has the authority to tackle tax and entitlement reform, health care, the budget and appropriations process, even government reorganization. All it takes to get something big and serious moving through Congress is for seven of the super committee members to support it....

You can read the whole column here.

posted by James C. Capretta | 2:40 pm
Tags: super committee, budget
File As: Health Care