The Super Committee Fails

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


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Whether the public approves of such spending or not is irrelevant. It is unsustainable. Yet there is a disconnection in the public’s thinking. While more than four-in-five Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, a substantial number of Americans have been more than willing to cede ever-increasing levels of power to Congress that massive amounts of federal spending automatically confer. Federal spending which now consumes 41 percent of America’s GDP, compared with 28 percent in 1963. If the OWS movement is really concerned about an unseemly concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few, camping out in Washington, D.C. makes far more sense than hanging around Wall Street.

Yet there is something far more ominous that remains an ever-present backdrop to this drama. The failure of the Super Committee was largely irrelevant in fiscal terms. Even with the automatic budget cuts engendered by that failure, federal spending will still increase by almost $2 trillion over the next ten years. And despite the claim by some analysts that the Republican-controlled House’s spending cuts of $38 billion from fiscal 2011′s budget have slowed the economy, the reality is that government spending has increased almost 5 percent so far this year.

Furthermore, the $1.2 trillion in “savings” over ten years must be measured against the $1.3 trillion in deficits spending we’ve accumulated this year alone. All a “successful” deal would have accomplished would be to slow down the rate of projected spending increases marginally more than the failure to reach a deal would have. It’s the equivalent of claiming one is curing oneself of alcoholism by drinking five martinis a day instead of six.

And even marginal savings might prove irrelevant. Despite the fact that a Moody’s economist said his firm is not likely to downgrade America’s debt due to the failure to reach a deal, nothing prevents a downgrade from occurring in the future. A downgrade which could raise America’s interest payments, making even the illusion of savings irrelevant.

That is not to say there is no downside at all in the Super Committee’s failure to resolve their differences. Congress has yet to act on a number of other fiscal matters that must be addressed before the current continuing resolution keeping the government going expires on December 16th. Those items include an unemployment benefit extensions, a Medicare doctor payment fix, a patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax and an extension to the expiring payroll tax holiday. All of them could have a significant impact on the economy if Congress fails to act. Yet the rancor produced by the failure of the Super Committee only exacerbates an already tenuous negotiating process.

In reality, only one group of Americans possess the most effective means for altering the nation’s current and unsustainable trajectory: the voting public. Whether they are up to the task remains to be seen. Despite all the rhetoric, the prime drivers of spending, social welfare programs, remain cherished items, even if the means of paying for them remain largely unrealistic, absent Euro-welfare state levels of taxation. Levels of taxation which have left that continent on the brink of its own date with fiscally disastrous destiny.

And lest anyone think “taxes on the rich” will solve the problem, it won’t. First, even at a rate of 100 percent on everyone making over $200,000 (America’s “rich” according to the president), there still wouldn’t be enough revenue collected to cover what we’re spending. Only a substantial tax hike on the middle class, where the “real money” is would do that. Furthermore, suffocating taxes would crush the one economic necessity that would mitigate much of the ideological intransigence of both parties: several years of sustained growth that would invariably bring in higher levels of revenue.

Second, the fundamental fallacy of taxation constantly promoted by the left is the idea that raising taxes by X produces X amount of additional revenue. This is based on their erroneous belief in static tax analysis, the idea that people will behave exactly the same way regardless of their tax burden. They won’t. The higher the tax burden, the more people engage in tax avoidance behavior. To what extent? Job Czar and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s company provides a cautionary tale for the ages. General Electric submitted a 57,000-page federal tax return for 2010–one that produced a tax liability of zero, despite $14 billion in profits.

Whether Republicans are up to the task of educating the public on the primary driver of debt, aka runaway, reckless spending, between now and 2012 remains to be seen. Certainly “tax the rich” makes for a better sound bite than something like “beware of static tax analysis.” But the reduced spending argument must be won if the nation is to avoid bankruptcy. The failure of the Super Committee is nothing more than the latest deflection away from that argument.

Yet that deflection is only temporary. Either we get our own fiscal house in order or we will learn, much like Europe is learning, that the market will do it for us. Italy and Greece are not the only countries whose borrowing costs can spiral beyond the point where debt relief becomes impossible. Unfortunately, it looks like the 2012 election is probably the only realistic opportunity to accomplish anything meaningful. A lot can happen in a year. It’s a genuine shame that the best the nation can hope for is to tread water between now and then. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the failure of the Super Committee, it’s precisely that.

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  • No Leadership

    Obama failed.

    Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) recently appeared on Face the Nation. He said that Obama nedded to take a leadership role, yet seemed to be staying away from the super committee. Manchin also appeared to not be too pleased with Obama’s lack of leadership.

    In the end, Obama phoned it in.

    When running for president, Obama said that taxes should be raised. A few months ago, though, Obama said that taxes should not be raised in a recession. Now, again, Obama is saying that taxes should be raised.

    While Joe Manchin – a maverick – is riding the straight-talk express, Obama is awol and riding the full-campaign-mode express.

  • Ken

    The "Super"committee was designed to fail. It gives Obama and his uber-Lefty allies their platform of class warfare for 2012.

  • oldtimer

    The next president is being set up to fail. Obama knows exactly what he is doing. Sly and cunning.

  • Herman Caintonette

    Did anyone honestly think that the StupidCommittee would do anything?

    Tax collections are at their lowest point in 50 years. We need to live within our means, and cutting the Defense Department (where expenditures have trebled since 1997) budget is the first order of business. You want more guns? Start paying more taxes.

    • StephenD

      I LOVE that no one is responding to Herman "killing Jewish kids is morally legitimate" Caintonette.
      Invalidation is what he deserves here on FPM.

      • BS77

        Just boycott him…do not respond to his infantile ego pleading for attention.

  • Spider

    The problem isn't taxation it is the welfare state. 40% of black males in this coumtry don't work and are on the public dole which forces black females on welfare since there is no support. . Illegal alians who the polititions falsely claim are here to work are increasingly on public assistance (they cost working people in California alone 10 billion a year ) Far to many able bodied whites are also on welfare and or unemployment they wouldn't use or need if it was not made so easily available to them. I say do means testing – anyone who is able bodied who wants a welfore check should be made to work for the money. Set up factories and have them make all the cheap crap we now get from China. No work – no check it is that simple. If they had to work for the money (that is bankrupting the country) they would get off their dead arses and get a real job.

  • jacob

    As to the Defense Dept. expenditures, it is a known fact that the American soldier
    is the most expensive there is in the world and worse since the mercenary army brainstorm invention in every respect….

    But aside from that, isn't time already to stop financing so called "FRIENDS", such
    as PAKISTAN, EGYPT, HAMAS through UNWRA, HIZBULLAH through LEBANON
    and if you want, to please the Judeophobes at all levels, even ISRAEL ????
    However, talking of JOBS, which has been "ad nauseam" OBAMA's claim, are we
    ever to see the renaissance of the MADE IN USA tag ????
    Incredible enough, nowhere politicians nor common people are even mentioning
    it, which tells me that everybody is satisfied with the "statu quo" and all the garbage
    CHINA has been sending us, from human excrement fed tilapia, to lead painted
    toys, melamine in pet food, poisonous gases in sheetrock to chassure that makes
    your feet stink to high heavens, everything is honky-dory….

  • StephenD

    Look back on the posts here when this committee was formed. There are plenty of folks that called it then. It is in the interest of the Dems for this to have failed. Even if the cuts don't come (you can almost see them salivating over the idea of the deep defense cuts), they win by pointing to a "Do Nothing" Congress. No one mentions Harry Reid sitting on 12+ bills or the "Do Nothing" Democratic Majority of the Senate.
    Ken and Oldtimer are exactly right on this. The problem is the Republicans let themselves get talked into this foolishness in the first place. So in fact, it is the fault of both parties. Shame on them.

  • tagalog

    StephenD is absolutely right. Once Obama was able to move this issue past the 2012 election, it was clear that Democrats would not address the spending cuts until at least that time. The Republicans fell for that, and thus were unbelievably credulous (and I mean "unbelievably" in the sense that no intelligent politician in Washington could possibly fall for it unless it meant kicking the can down the road), so it became inevitable that the so-called super committee (it probably would be more accurately called the ineffectual committee) would deadlock. Republicans resist tax increases because they believe -rightly- that the problem is a spending problem, while Democrats, for some inexplicable reason, resist spending cuts. Obviously, they will never come together because both parties have a personal stake in putting the issue off until after the next election.

    And there is no visible hope as yet of politicians getting into power very soon who will put the interests of the nation ahead of their own. This latter problem is one that is potentially fatal to the United States' continued existence.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    One thing the article neatly omitted is the fact that the US federal government in response to the 9/11 jihad attacks was doubled in size, scope, and power via the creation of the humongous Department of Homeland Security, the extremely intrusive TSA, and the gargantuan National Intelligence Directorate ostensibly to protect the homeland from further 9/11 jihad attacks, but in reality to continue accommodating mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage, which also was increased significantly following the 9/11 jihad attacks.

    Indeed, today even though the federal government has been effectively doubled in size, scope, and power ostensibly to make the homeland safe from further 9/11 jihad attacks, the reality is because of the significant increase in mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage that coincided with the doubling of the size, scope, and power of the federal government, the truth is we are even more vulnerable to further jihad attacks today than we were prior to 9/11. As all that has been accomplished was the creation of a false sense of security, a usurpation of formerly heretofore constitutionally protected rights to freedom, liberty, and privacy, and new massive unprecedented record levels of federal deficits and national debt.

    In fact, had the US reacted in response to the 9/11 jihad attacks by outlawing Islam and banning and reversing mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage instead, not only would all the people that were murdered in cold-blood by jihadists inside America's homeland since the 9/11 jihad attacks still be alive and well today, but the homeland would also be exponentially far safer than it is today, as zero Muslims living in America translates into zero possibility of jihad attacks. In addition, the record level of federal deficits and the out of control exploding national debt also wouldn't be ballooning like it is today.

    Thus, the 800 pound gorilla in the room and the question to always be avoided at all cost like the plague is can we really afford to continue accommodating mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage? Indeed, imagine if we outlawed Islam and banned and reversed mass Muslim immigration, which is something that in the long run will have be be done eventually anyway before its too late, it would automatically reduce the possibility of jihad attacks in America's homeland to zero. Thus, since the possibility of jihad attacks in the homeland would be reduced to zero, we could simply eliminate the humongous Department of Homeland Security, the extremely intrusive TSA, and the gargantuan National Intelligence Directorate, which are in effect cumulatively the biggest federal boondoggles ever created in the history of mankind, and use the money that currently funds those completely useless and unnecessary monstrosities today, to get our financial house back in order.

    Thus, today we on the verge of implementing draconian military cuts that would in effect hollow out our military and simultaneously at the same time swing the door wide open for the forces of totalitarianism to dominate the world, and we are making that choice today in order to continue accommodating mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage. In other words, we are being sold out by our elitist politicians, as they are transforming the US into a weak, feckless, and pacifist nation similar to the Euroloons, while making us at the same time subservient dhimmis to the forces of one world governance under the auspices of the UN, which, by the way, is already controlled behind the scenes by Islam.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    We are paying the fare for our enemies, spending wildly on free this and that gimics
    by political thieves who seek only one thing reelection. Are there no responsible
    people left in America that would not see public office as candy land for continual
    self enrichment? What OYM states is absolutely true and we are being sold out by
    slick political talk which gets old but because of the attention span of Americans,
    inbetween beers and ball games there is no one paying attention and they are
    diverted by clown performances vis OWS and yes we are seeing our Nation become
    the weak, feckless and pacifist nation similar to the Euroloons as OYM states.

    What I am wondering is where did the money go and who can account for it?
    If the truth ever comes out which I doubt it will be a payday in hell for the thieves
    involved………………………………………………………..William

  • Hercules

    We are all preaching to the choir, i.e., intelligent, educated, informed people who visit these kinds of sites for information and edification. Yet, there is an army of people out there who do not hear or share our message, our understanding and our vision. They are unable to do so. They are captives of the dark side which supports Obama and the nanny socialist state. We will not know until after Nov 2012 whether the country will abandon the path of self-destruction or proceed full speed ahead to its ultimate doom. If Obama were to win in 2012 that would be an unmistakable omen that the nation's character has been permanently altered from that established by the Founding Fathers. The experiment they launched will prove to have ultimately failed while the revolting vision conceived by Karl Marx will have succeeded. Those of us who remember 'when America was free' will have existential choices to confront.