Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Super Committee Crashing and Burning!

Did anyone not expect this?

The supercommittee last met Nov. 1 – three weeks ago! It was a public hearing featuring a history lesson, “Overview of Previous Debt Proposals,” with Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin. The last PRIVATE meeting was Oct. 26. You might as well stop reading right there: The 12 members (6 House, 6 Senate; 6 R, 6 D) were never going to strike a bargain, grand or otherwise, if they weren’t talking to each other. Yes, we get that real deal-making occurs in small groups. But there never WAS a functioning supercommittee: There was Republican posturing and Democratic posturing, with some side conversations across the aisle.

(L-R) Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and Alice Rivlin and Pete Domenici, co-chairmen of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force, arrive to testify before the U.S. Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 1, 2011. The bipartisan congressional committee formed to address the deficit issue and known in Washington as the "super committee" needs to break an impasse between Republicans and Democrats to reach a deal by November 23 to reduce the U.S. budget deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)
The "Super Committee" was never a serious body.

How do I know this? Look at its real name: The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

"Deficit reduction" is a term that has no legitimate meaning in a political context.

A startup business burning through investor capital for a few years as it rolls out its product or service, competes for market share and ramps up toward profitability projects "deficit reductions."

A 220-odd-year-old monopoly government isn't a business startup trying out a new product or service and hoping people like it and buy it. It has a captive market and great latitude as to which products and services it will force people buy and how much it will charge them (collecting at gunpoint if necessary) for those products and services.

In other words, a 220-year-old monopoly government has no excuse -- save, perhaps, unexpected war -- for failing to balance the checkbook in any given year, let alone for decades at a time.

The way to "reduce the deficit" is to get rid of it -- to stop spending more than you can reasonably expect to take in, not to appoint a "Super Committee" to come up with pie-in-the-sky plans that call for your successors to eventually stop spending more than they take in. This is especially urgent when you're past the point where said "Super Committee" can even come up with believable future sky pie.


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