Why Congressional Budget Supercommittee is All Hype

The November 23 deadline is approaching fast for the much hyped “Supercommittee” on deficit reduction. It is painfully obvious this highly publicized bicameral committee is little more than smoke and mirrors instead of the last best hope of America to address our budget concerns. After several months of ongoing partisan bickering, this group of twelve United States Senators and Representatives were assigned the task of finding bipartisan cuts in the federal budget to reduce the federal deficit and debt. The stated goal of the Supercommittee is to find $1.5 trillion in cuts to the federal budget over the next ten years. If this goal is not met or the committee’s recommendations are not passed by Congress, a Sequester will be triggered in which one trillion in reductions are automatically cut from the budget.

The Obama administration continues to peddle the $1.5 trillion in savings as significant and substantial targets. Even if the Supercommittee is able to reach its highly touted goal, it is not enough to make any meaningful difference. The national debt of the United States currently stands at $16 trillion and the deficit hovers over one trillion annually. The goal of the Supercommittee falls short on substance, only addressing a small fraction of the necessary budget cutting required to achieve sustainability.

There already appear to be cracks in the committee’s armor even before any heavy lifting has started. It is doubtful the committee can compromise on any tax proposals or real spending cuts. There is opportunity for members to address onerous tax loopholes and pick some low hanging fruit on which easy agreements can be reached. However, it is doubtful enough loopholes and easy compromises exist to meet the $1.5 trillion target. In order to bridge the gap, the Sequester mechanism will be triggered in which the Pentagon will be the $500 billion victim of Congresses inability to come to a solution. As the deadline approaches, it is entirely possible for Congress to disable the sequester mechanism, thereby disabling any automatic cuts. Both sides will then point fingers and place blame on the Supercommittee which is one of the actual reasons the group was formed.

This “coalition of the willing” provides fantastic political cover for the Obama administration and Congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle. All sides of the issue can use the committee as shelter for what is sure to be a very frustrated electorate in 2012. President Obama and his supporters on Capitol Hill have been at the helm for three full years with no real economic progress to show the American people. With no light at the end of the tunnel, the administration must find diversions or outright scapegoats to draw attention from policies widely seen as ineffective. If the Supercommittee or its recommendations fall short in the legislature, the administration will have their villain.

On the flipside of the coin, House Republicans can deflect Democrat labels of obstructionism in the House of Representatives. Since the Obama Administration does not have a strong record of achievement to run on, they need to create a strawman. Even with two full years of controlling the Presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Democrats still do not have the solution for our economic problems. The most likely scenario is a failed proposal from the Supercommittee, the disabling of the Sequester followed by another tedious blame game by congressional leadership. In the end, there will not be any grand resolution by the Supercommittee, just a continuation of the perpetual budget crisis as party leaders ignore the ticking time bomb. Give them credit, this “Supercommittee” will be a “supersized” distraction for all involved but we still don’t believe the hype.

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