Well, the much anticipated picks for the debt deal Super Committee have been announced. There will be much ink spilled over who was chosen and who was rejected. However, the salient point is not the orientation of the committee, but the entire premise behind the committee itself.
Many conservatives will laud the choice of Pat Toomey for the committee; others will decry the pick of light bulb ban man, Fred Upton. The reality is that none of this matters.
The Democrats have picked three radical leftists in the Senate, and are expected to follow suit with their House picks. There is no way that Democrats on the committee will ever support meaningful spending cuts, repeal of Obamacare, or entitlement reform. Harry Reid made sure to keep the likes of Kent Conrad and Mark Warner - senators, who have expressed some support for minor entitlement reforms – off the committee.
Even if the committee would miraculously approve some real spending cuts, does anyone really believe that Obama would support the recommendations more than he did Simpson-Bowles? That blue-ribbon panel identified policy changes that both parties liked and hated; it called for some cuts and entitlement reform – and more taxes; nevertheless, Obama threw his own commission under the bus. We are really to believe that Obama would approve a commission report that calls for good entitlement reforms with or without tax hikes?
Let's be charitable for a moment and presume that Fred Upton will never support tax increases. We must also anticipate that if he does support a tax increase, Boehner will be tenacious enough to whip up the votes against it. Keep in mind that he is forced to schedule a vote on the committee's recommendations. But again, let's assume that the tax hikes are defeated. Is this the best we can do from a deal that was supposed to be a harbinger for sweeping spending cuts? It is pathetic that the best we can say from our own deal, fueled by our own leverage, is that "at least we were spared from tax increases." No kidding! The best we can hope for from our own leverage is that we won't pass more imprudent legislation? Weren't we supposed to use our leverage to gain ground by reducing the size of government?
Instead of gaining ground with spending cuts, we will actually lose ground with this ridiculous super committee. We can appoint Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Jim Jordan, Michele Bachmann, and Jeff Flake to the committee – and it still won't matter. The new committee will be as ephemeral as Simpson-Bowles. After the excitement surrounding the selections dies down, the committee will be deadlocked, triggering the sequestration process. But that's a good thing, isn't it?
This sequestration cuts 50% from defense spending, while exempting all welfare programs from the process. We must remember that much of the discretionary cuts triggered from the first tranche will also include defense cuts. Some of the remaining cuts will come from the government’s obligations to healthcare providers. That’s some concession from Obama. More precisely, it appears that he will be able to have his cake and eat it too.
The real problem has very little to do with the orientation of the committee. The problem all along was this ridiculous debt deal that failed to preclude a credit downgrade, limit government, or curb entitlements. Worse, it will cut from the few areas that the federal government is actually responsible to support.
But fear not; at the very least, we won't incur tax hikes – or, will we?