Dear Super Committee: Here’s a Little Advice

Compromise is not a word that a lot of people on Capitol Hill understand these days.  That’s particularly true when those who are entrenched in their own view of things can’t climb out of those trenches without a 12-foot ladder.

The so-called “Super Committee” — aka the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — has been at work for the last three months, trying to”fix” our economic woes.  Remember when we were staring into the economic abyss back in August, and Congress finally agreed to raise the debt ceiling so America wouldn’t default on its financial obligations and tank the global economy?  I know it was the end of summer vacation, but somehow a “Super Committee” was formed that was supposed to seriously, and in a bipartisan way, develop a plan to put the economy on a better road.

I’ll stop for a minute while you finish laughing or cleaning up the Diet Coke you just spit all over your keyboard.

So here we are, about a day before both sides cry “uncle” on this effort, with automatic spending cuts ready to go into effect that will begin the process of slashing $1.2 trillion dollars from the budget — cuts that neither side wants.

So how did we get here?

Sometime in the last couple of decades of super-partisan politics, we’ve all lost the ability to compromise.  But I know some women who understand what that word means.  So for lack of any better suggestions coming from Capitol Hill, some of my friends weighed in on the question:

If I had been on the Super Committee, I would have …   And their answers?

– Voted for Congress to work for minimum wage.

– Probably had a screaming hissy fit wherein I told Republicans that supply-side economics is a myth and to stop pretending it’s a policy that works.

– Begun with a history book set alongside all that economic theory.

– Challenged the validity of said Super Committee.

– Worn a cape.

– Lit the Bat Signal.

–Told the rest of the committee to stop acting like spoiled children having a sibling spat and start acting like adults who’ve been charged with the very serious job of planning an entire nation’s financial future. Taken the rest of the committee on a field trip to visit some of the 1 in 5 Americans now on food stamps who are waiting on Congress to offer some solution.  Locked the rest of the committee together in a small room with a few pens, some papers and an audiobook of A Christmas Carol on endless loop and told them they can’t come out until they have a solution.

– Looked more at Senator Toomey’s plan.  I think it was ridiculous to dismiss it out of hand.  I think Grover Norquist has paralyzed the GOP with his silly pledge and I think the Dems need to get beyond just saying no to extending existing cuts.  Bottom line: compromise.  And I still would have angled for a cape.

– Lined up prominent conservative leaders of faith to say, “It’s OK to raise taxes on the wealthy if it fulfills our obligation to look out for the poor.”  Seriously, does anyone know what faith leaders’ positions are on this?  I haven’t seen much about it.

– Subpoenaed “Cookie Monster” from OccupySesameStreet to explain the economic crisis in simple terms, since clearly the more complex explanations are over their heads.

–Solved the F’ing problem.

– Used more jazz hands.

– Used more cowbell.

– Wished that Sarah Palin had announced her presidential candidacy because I really believe she would have locked them in a room with only peanut butter sandwiches and cold cereal and said, “You solve the problem and figure out a way to compromise or you’re not coming out for Thanksgiving or Christmas and then you can figure out how to answer to your wives, husbands, children and grandchildren. Now grow up boys and girls!!”

Those responses all came within just a few minutes of asking the question.  Even with some humor, it doesn’t take much to sense the level of frustration people on both sides of this debate are feeling.

On a slightly more serious note, Kelly Phillips Erb points out at her Tax Girl blog at Forbes that all this hand-wringing over the Super Committee deadline is just an act.  Yes, Congress instituted a deadline, but they can change it.  And I’m willing to bet my slice of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie that’s exactly what’s going to happen in the next 24 hours.

As for Grover Norquist, he’d better be looking for a secure, undisclosed location for his Thanksgiving celebration.  He may think he’s got everybody right where he wants them, but we’re at the point where his Republican “allies” are going to turn on him.   They may have signed his no new taxes “oath,” but in the end, when that bit of political theatrics stops working with voters who can’t even afford to buy a turkey this holiday season, those oath-takers will be blaming him and making him the fall guy for the GOP’s role in this mess.

Image via Joanne Bamberger.  All rights reserved.

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7 Responses to “Dear Super Committee: Here’s a Little Advice”

  1. Edward Bryant Says:

    I liked your post and agree that the failure to compromise is troubling but I have to say that your post and the answers you posted keep making the implication that the goal of the committee was to improve the economy when that simply is not true. It was tasked with reducing the deficit (which most economists would say reducing spending will further slow any recovery). Cutting the deficit will not create jobs, take people off food stamps, or help anyone today. In fact, I think deficit reduction is a big distraction from any effort to bolster our economic recovery. Dealing with the deficit is important and it matters to our long-term financial stability but is a completely separate issue from the current state of the economy.

    On a side note, if I was on the committee I would have … recorded all committee’s communications and when no deal was reached release them to the public. Instead of blamestorming, give the public all the information and decide who to blame for the failure to compromise.

  2. San Jedrusiak Says:

    How do we knowingly allow Grover Norquist (huh?) to hold half of our government hostage? He looked very arrogant and self-serving on 60 Minutes. The Federal governing process is out of control, and I don’t think the agent of change is President Obama, or among the Republican presidential candidates. I think there are plenty of capable people in the Congress, but they are handcuffed by their party affiliations.

  3. Bud Warren Says:

    How, exactly, does one compromise with fanatics? If your opponents stated objective is to make you disappear, how do you meet them halfway? The committee and for that matter the entire government is now a wholly owned subsidiary of America’s version of the Monarchy- a tiny number of control freaks who own and/or control damn near everything and who still haven’t figured out that they are eliminating the very ground they ( and the rest of us) stand upon with their idiocy and greed.

  4. Joanne Bamberger aka PunditMom Says:

    Well, “compromising” with ones who take extreme views is part of the problem. Many Republicans on Capitol Hill have become very good at sticking to their extreme guns about keeping tax cuts for the wealthy and keeping their boots on the throats of the middle class and poor, while at the same time honing their talking points about the Dems not being willing to meet them “halfway.” Sadly, those with the best (and easiest) talking points usually win because they know few are paying attention to the actual facts.

  5. Kelly Russell Says:

    This may seem out of left field, but I can’t help but think that those on the Super Committee are also concerned about their campaign funders. They’re trying to forge some kind of a plan, but darn it!—those powerful lobbies rear their noxious heads in the most interesting places. And who wants to stand up–or even take any kind of stand–when the response may well be, “Off with her (his) head!” Perhaps the Super Committee would have been freed up to get on with their task if they weren’t equally (or more) concerned about their political careers.

  6. PunditMom Says:

    Kelly, I have no doubt you are right — I might be jaded, but it’s hard not to believe that pretty much everything in Washington is driven by the next election cycle and who each party’s/candidate’s major donors are. That’s why so many people have been upset by the Supreme Court’s decision allowing corporations to be considered “people” for purposed of political donations. Until we have a political system that isn’t driven by money, will elected officials ever really be looking out for the voters who didn’t give the big bucks?

  7. Christopher Ganiere Says:

    Easy. Just go back to the Clinton Federal Budgets and the problem is solved. The Clinton budgets were each about $2 trillion. We brought in about $2 trillion in revenue in 2010. The debt ceiling wouldn’t be reached and as the economy grows we can use that to retire the debt.

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