Least surprising news bulletin of the year: the Congressional “super committee” failed to agree on a plan to reduce the U.S. deficit. Reaction from most of the Iowans in Congress is after the jump.
As anyone paying attention to American politics could have foreseen, Republicans refused to make meaningful tax increases any part of the discussion. The GOP tax proposal would have increased revenues by a token amount in exchange for a big tax cut for the top income bracket. Meanwhile, the Democrats on the super committee were willing to accept a deal including larger entitlement cuts than should have been on the table.
In theory, the super committee’s failure will trigger $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade, beginning in January 2013. In theory, half of that amount will be cut from defense spending and the other half from non-defense domestic spending.
If you believe those spending cuts will ever happen, I have a bridge to sell you. President Barack Obama talked tough today about vetoing “any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending.” But in January 2013, he will either no longer be president or will cave to a Republican-controlled Congress.
In any event, most members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation commented today on the collapse of super committee negotiations.
Memo from Senator Chuck Grassley’s office:
Senator Grassley submitted specific recommendations to the committee for spending reductions totaling hundreds of millions to even billions of dollars from administrative restructuring, reduction of duplicative and overlapping programs, and unnecessary and wasteful programs under the authority and jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where he serves as Ranking Member. He also made recommendations to the committee for the Grassley-Kohl legislation which would save $4.8 billion in federal government spending on prescription drugs, including through Medicare and Medicaid, by stopping deals between name-brand and generic drug makers that keep less expensive drugs off the market. Senator Grassley urged the committee to adopt caps on farm payments, for a savings of $1.5 billion, and he backed a goal of saving $23 billion in spending from programs that fall under the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Agriculture.
“Even though I didn’t vote for the bill that created the super committee, I hoped it would succeed in reducing government spending and signal that Washington is serious about getting our fiscal house in order. During the last two years alone, federal spending has increased 22 percent, not even counting the failed $800 billion stimulus program. Out-of-control deficit spending and a $15 trillion national debt inhibit the ability of the economy to grow and create private-sector jobs. It’s a moral issue, too, because it’s wrong to leave a legacy of debt for the next generation.
“Going forward, entitlement reforms are needed not only for the federal budget, but also to sustain the programs themselves, and Congress and the President need to stay focused on reducing spending. Tax increases aren’t the solution because we know that money from tax increases isn’t used to reduce the deficit. For the last 65 years, every new dollar in tax increases has resulted in Congress’ spending $1.17.
“The President should have been engaged and at least have offered a credible deficit reduction plan. In addition, the majority leadership of the Senate continues to do nothing about the budget challenges, despite the urgency.”
Statement from Senator Tom Harkin:
Much has been said about the need for this panel to compromise on a bipartisan basis. Democrats have carried out their work in this spirit, offering numerous major deficit reductions proposals in which they offered changes in mandatory programs in exchange for tax contributions from millionaires and billionaires. Republicans have repeatedly drawn a line in the sand, not only rejecting these proposals, but even going further and proposing additional tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. If there was any question in anyone’s mind, Republican intransigence throughout this process has clearly demonstrated that they do not care about deficit reduction, but rather use deficit reduction as a cover for their true aim, preserving tax cuts for the rich.
True deficit reduction will only come through a balanced approach to budgeting – a fair mix of spending cuts and revenue increases. In poll after poll, Americans favor a balanced approach and most major deficit-reduction agreements over the last three decades were balanced. In fact, President Reagan signed three major deficit reduction proposals that included more revenue from increased taxes than from reduced spending.
Anything short of a balanced approach was not worth pursuing. And at a time when middle class families are being asked to give more and more, when budgets are being stretched thin, I would much rather this panel avoid an agreement than settle on one that further erodes our prosperity and decimates the struggling middle class.
My hope now is that Congress will have another opportunity to reach a balanced agreement in 2013 when $1.2 trillion in across the board spending cuts are carried out and the Bush tax cuts expire.
Statement from Representative Bruce Braley (IA-01):
Leaders from both political parties have failed to put aside their differences and come together to pursue what they must know is the only reasonable option for reducing our massive federal budget deficit. We need a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes spending cuts and new revenue, like a fee on Wall Street speculators and closing loopholes that allow big corporations to move profits overseas to avoid paying any taxes.
A balanced approach is exactly what Iowans demanded during deficit reduction town halls I held across my district earlier this year, and it’s something I’ll continue to work for. Unfortunately, partisan ideology is trumping common sense in Washington.”
Statement from Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02):
“Today’s announcement is another example of the dysfunction and brinksmanship that already led the country to the edge earlier this year. While I was hopeful that we would not be in this situation again, I opposed the creation of the super committee because I didn’t believe kicking the can down the road would change the partisan politics in Washington. People across Iowa have demanded that Congress work together to tackle the deficit problem, but unfortunately once more Washington was unable to compromise to move our nation forward. I will continue to work with my colleagues to find balanced, common sense solutions that will grow our economy and create jobs.”
Statement from Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03):
“This is very disappointing – but not surprising – that the committee could not reach a deal. I originally did not support organizing such a group because I felt like this would likely be the outcome; however, I was optimistic the members would be able to aim high for a bigger, bolder target of 4 trillion in reductions in order to have a real effect on our massive deficit.
“The cuts will come but it is shameful that Congress cannot agree to set aside our differences to broker an agreement during a time when American families are facing tight budgets and making tough spending decisions themselves. There seems to be mass amnesia with how we found ourselves in this position today but that’s history. We all need to share the burden moving forward. “
Statement from Representative Tom Latham (IA-04):
If the “supercommittee” is unable to reach an agreement, this would be yet another outrageous failure by Washington to set aside partisan bickering and finger-pointing to work together for the well being of our great nation.
I voted against the establishment of the “supercommittee” in part because of my concerns that it was designed to fail and would lead to even more gridlock. My concerns sadly appear to have been justified with the shameless disintegration of this process into nothing but political finger-pointing over the past few days.
The American people are rightfully frustrated by the rampant dysfunction in Congress. It’s time to put progress ahead of partisanship and the people ahead of politics. We must quickly come together to agree to an effective process that can bring about common-sense solutions. I stand ready to work with any of my colleagues in Congress, regardless of party affiliation, to rein in the national debt and bring certainty back to our economy.
I will update this post if I see a comment from Representative Steve King (IA-05).